Creating the Pathways from Poverty to Prosperity

North America: The most prosperous region

North America is the most prosperous region. Its prosperity has changed very little over the last decade, but it saw a slight deterioration over the past year.

The changes in prosperity seen in the region are primarily a result of the following improvements and deteriorations:


  • Market access and infrastructure has improved over the last decade in both Canada (20th) and the United States (4th), primarily due to improvements in communications infrastructure — international internet bandwidth, for example, has increased from 56 to 64 kilobits per capita.
  • Economic quality has strengthened, particularly in the United States (17th), due to sizeable reductions in adult and youth unemployment and an improvement in macroeconomic stability as a result of GDP per capita growth being over 10 times higher than it was in 2010.
  • Canada (6th) and the United States (20th) have seen an improvement in education; in Canada, higher secondary enrolment rates (now 99.8%) and better access to quality education have driven the improvement, whereas in the United States, this is the result of increased tertiary enrolment and completion rates.


  • The deterioration in the Safety and Security pillar is the result of an increase in violent crime in the United States (66th), with the homicide rate increasing from 4.5 to 5.4 homicides per 100,000 people between 2014 and 2016.
  • Enterprise conditions across North America have weakened slightly, most notably in Canada (17th) which has dropped 10 ranks in the pillar since 2010. Experts have found that corporate activity is increasingly dominated by fewer business groups, which has led a decline in domestic market contestability.
  • There has been a deterioration in mental health and behavioural risk factors across North America. High and increasing rates of obesity and substance abuse disorders afflict both the U.S. and Canada, and suicide rates across the region have increased by 30% to 13 deaths per 100,000 population since 2010.