Creating the Pathways from Poverty to Prosperity

Western Europe: Slow and steady increase in prosperity over the past decade

Despite a slight deterioration in the last year, Western Europe has experienced a slow and steady increase in prosperity over the past decade.


  • Market access and infrastructure improved in all but two countries across the region, which is mainly due to the expansion of the communications infrastructure, with countries such as Cyprus (31st) and Spain (12th) improving by 9 and 6 ranks in the pillar respectively. In Cyprus, the proportion of people who regularly use the internet doubled over the past decade to 84%.
  • Education and health have improved in all Western European countries over the past decade. Tertiary education has improved in every country except Sweden (20th), as have the skills of the adult population in every country but Norway (10th). The improvement in health is mainly the result of preventative interventions strengthening in 14 of the region’s 20 countries as a result of immunisation rates increasing.
  • Safety and security has also improved across the region, particularly with respect to politically related terror and violence — Greece (joint 1st) and Spain (64th) improved by 92 and 44 ranks respectively for this element in the last decade. This overall improvement is despite the number of terrorism incidents more than doubling to 6 per 10,000,000 people across the region since 2010.


  • Western Europe has seen a weakening of its Natural Environment since 2010, with 9 of the 20 countries experiencing a deterioration. Greece (32nd) and Ireland (15th) declined the most, due in the case of Greece to fish stocks being increasingly overexploited, and in the case of Ireland to nitrogen being used less sustainably in farming.