The 2017 ISA Country Power Rankings

For nearly 15 years, ISA has covered the global economy, security, politics, trade and investment, analyzing the ups and downs of all of the countries around the world.  This has given ISA an unparalleled understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of all countries, and has allowed us to have a clear view of how much power a state possesses today, and how its power will rise or fall in the years and decades ahead.  While power rankings are usually confined to measuring the relative strengths of sports teams or businesses, we believed that it was important to accurately measure the balance of power in the world today, as it is the balance of power that plays such a critical role in maintaining global security and prosperity. 

One need only look to history to find countless examples of how shifts in the balance of power between countries, or misconceptions of a country’s actual power, have dramatically altered the political, economic or security situation in the world.  As such, we decided it was time for a detailed analysis of the power of the world’s leading countries.  While we measured dozens of countries, we decided to focus on the 20 countries that ranked the highest in our study, thus the 2017 ISA Country Power Rankings were born.

The report goes into more detail into the rigorous methodology that we used to create this year’s Country Power Rankings, but a few points should be noted here.  First, we maintained a 100% third-party and unbiased stance when compiling this report.  In fact, we compiled the power scores and rankings in such a way that the final rankings were not known to us until we had completed the report.  This led to some results that may seem surprising to some observers, but we are confident that we have properly analyzed the factors that comprise a country’s overall level of power.  For our study, we determined that seven factors combine to give a country its power.  Moreover, we assigned a weight to each of these seven categories of power to come up with a country’s overall power score.  These categories, and their weights, are: 

• Economic Power (25% of a country’s overall power)

• Demographic Power (15% of a country’s overall power)

• Military Power (15% of a country’s overall power)

• Environmental and Natural Resources Power (15% of a country’s overall power)

• Political Power (10% of a country’s overall power)

• Cultural Power (10% of a country’s overall power)

• Technological Power (10% of a country’s overall power)

Obviously, some of these categories overlap (economic power and technological power, for example), but in the study, you will see how we developed scores for each of these categories of power.  Meanwhile, we endeavored to develop scores that reflect the balance between scale and per-capita factors.  For example, the scale of China’s economy dwarfs that of Switzerland, but Switzerland’s per capita wealth levels offset a small portion of China’s scale advantage in terms of economic power.  Such considerations are taken into account throughout the Country Power Rankings.

As mentioned, we condensed this year’s Country Power Rankings into a Top 20, so some relatively powerful countries just missed the cut.  These include Turkey (a surprise to us), Israel and Argentina, each of which finished just outside of the Top 20.  Maybe next year they will find their way into the rankings.

The 2017 ISA Country Power Rankings study can be downloaded by clicking on the button on the right of this page.