Britain best place in EU to start a business after economic recovery
Britain's economic performance has outstripped all major European Union countries and it is now one of the best places in the world to start up a business, an international survey of wealth and happiness has found.
Government policies aimed at getting people into work in the wake of the financial crash have led to "incredible" results, according to the Legatum Institute.
But the UK's overall ranking in the think tank's annual prosperity index, which looks at finances and well-being in 142 countries, has slipped to 15th, down from 13th last year.
Norway remains top of the table, followed by Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden while Ireland is ranked 10th.
The UK climbed nine places to 19th in the economic strand of the index - the first time the nation has exceeded its pre-crash rating, which is calculated by assessing areas like the unemployment rate, inflation, and perceived job availability.
Germany remains higher, in fifth place, but has only jumped by four rankings, while France has fallen by eight to 30th, according to the research.
In a boost for Chancellor George Osborne, the think tank puts the improved performance down to the ease of starting a business in Britain as well as the number of people in full-time employment.
The institute, which aims to promote prosperity through free enterprise, puts the UK 6th on its entrepreneurship scale and said it now ranks as the best place in the EU for people setting up their own companies.
Nathan Gamester, programme director of the prosperity index, said: "The UK is among the most prosperous countries in the world.
"This is due to a number of factors including a firm belief in the rule of law, the ability to protect its citizens, and the fact that it is one of most open and free nations in the world.
"However, Britain's real success has been its recent economic transformation. Since the financial crash, the Government has prioritised getting people into work.
"And the results - seen in the 2015 prosperity index - are quite incredible. The UK is growing faster in the economy category than any other major EU country.
"The gap in full-time employment between the richest and poorest 20% of the country has halved since 2009. This is the biggest turnaround of any major developed economy."
In its wider analysis, the institute raises the alarm about the vulnerability of some countries to Islamic State by comparing its latest findings with records relating to Syria and Iraq before the advance of the jihadis.
Tunisia and Morocco are both flagged up as high-risk countries.
"Given recent attacks in Tunisia, this is probably not surprising, but the trend in Morocco will concern European governments given its geographic proximity and popularity among holidaymakers," the report states.