Bringing Prosperity to Life


Ranked 149th of 149

At a glance


149 th on the Legatum
Prosperity Index™



In the Prosperity Sub-Index rankings, Yemen performs best on Health and Safety & Security and scores lowest on the Economic Quality sub-index.

Visit our Rankings table to see how Yemen compares to other countries.

Prosperity Gap

The ‘Prosperity Gap’ takes a country's GDP and uses it as the yardstick to measure a nation's expected Prosperity Index ranking.

Yemen has the second largest prosperity deficit in the world. Conflict and unrest over recent years has made Yemen more and more of an under-deliverer of prosperity: its deficit increased by 27% between 2007 and 2016.

In the chart above, each dot represents a country. The curve shows the general tendency with which prosperity increases as GDP per capita increases. If a country falls below the curve, then we can say that compared to all other countries, it is under-delivering prosperity for its citizens. Likewise, if a country rises above the curve, then we can say that it is over-delivering prosperity for its citizens. Learn more about the Prosperity Gap here.

Alternatively, have a look at the Prosperity Gap view on our Rankings table for a full list of countries and to see how each of them are performing on the various sub-indices.


The Prosperity Index shows Yemen struggling and failing to deliver prosperity for its citizens. Already ranked four places from the bottom in 2007, it saw some improvement across its Business Environment, Health, Education, and Environment sub-indices until 2013. These improvements were not enough to change Yemen’s overall rank, however. Instability arising from terrorism since 2000, consequent crackdowns on personal freedom and the 2011 protests following the Arab Spring conspired to make Yemen not just the least prosperous country in the Gulf but one of the least prosperous countries in the world. Things have only gotten worse.

Any expectations of reform following Yemen’s 2011 Revolution were quickly dashed. The state was unable to monopolise the use of force, social unrest continued and separatist movements emerged in the south. There remained persistent calls to resolve legal pluralism, to end corruption, nepotism and patronage, and to improve food security and infrastructure.

Yemen has experienced a deterioration across all sub-indices of prosperity except Social Capital since the start of the Civil War.
Yemen has experienced a deterioration across all sub-indices of prosperity except Social Capital since the start of the Civil War.

In 2014, Houthi rebels – a Shia-led movement from northern Yemen who were a force behind the 2004 and 2011 uprisings – overran the capital. The country has been at civil war since, prompting a Saudi Arabia-led coalition to intervene militarily against the rebels. Coalition airstrikes were mainly directed at military targets, but others hit civilian homes and infrastructure, and humanitarian assistance. The United Nations estimated that the conflict caused the deaths of more than 2,700 civilians and the forcible displacement of more than 2.5 million people by the end of 2015.

These events lie behind the deterioration across Yemen’s Safety & Security sub-index, particularly its war casualties, political terror scale, intentional homicides, and refugee outflows. On an individual level, Yemenis feel less secure about their food and shelter situation, and feel less safe walking alone at night.

Yemenis personal freedom has also suffered. The Houthi rebels, according to Amnesty International, arbitrarily restricted freedom of expression, association and assembly, have arrested journalists, forced the closure of NGOs, used lethal force against peaceful protesters, and used torture. Women and girls remain subject to discrimination and abuses including forced marriage and female genital mutilation. Death sentences and executions continue. Since 2014, only one component of the Personal Freedom sub-index - tolerance for immigrants – improved.

While the general outlook looks unpromising, some democratic elements have taken root. Youth literacy has improved since 2007, Yemeni journalists have become more active and proficient, networking between Yemeni and international NGOs has increased, and access to broadband has widened. These changes are stimulating democratisation in Yemen, a process that can be helped through close monitoring and support from the global community.

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How to read this graph:
When comparing multiple countries on a spider chart, data points that appear
further away from the center represent a better performance to the points that are closer to the center.