A country's ranking in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report depends largely on an executive opinion survey. If the business executives in one country rate its infrastructure, government institutions or education system highly, its score goes up in those categories. These are used to decide overall rankings.
Singapore is the world's third most competitive economy, according to this year's report, for the second year in a row. Switzerland remains No 1 while Sweden has moved up to second place. America, which slipped to second spot last year, is down to fourth place.
What these rankings reflect is business confidence in a country.
In Singapore, the business executives who took part in the survey were chosen with the help of the Economic Development Board. In some countries, they were chosen with the help of non-government bodies. The London School of Economics helped in Britain, the Confederation of Indian Industries in India.
Singapore excelled in those categories where the rankings were based on the executive opinion survey. The executives, chosen with the help of the Economic Development Board, gave it near-perfect scores for quality of education, public trust in politicians and several other categories.
(These charts from the Global Competitiveness Report are based not on the executive opinion survey but on other sources.)
Singapore scored 6.4 out of seven for public trust in politicians and 6.1 out of seven for quality of higher education. It topped those categories. See the list of most trusted politicians in the world.
Singapore scored 5.6 out of seven for judicial independence, finishing 21st in that category (New Zealand was first with 6.8), but well ahead of America, which finished 35th with five out of seven. Scores in this category, too, were based on the executive opinion survey. See How the Global Competitiveness Report is prepared.
There were categories based on data from other sources. There, Singapore had more mixed scores.
Of the 139 countries surveyed, for example, Singapore had the 63rd lowest average interest spread (5.1) between typical lending and deposit rates. The spread was lower in Hong Kong, Malaysia, China and almost every Western country, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit and the International Monetary Fund.
But Singapore had the sixth most affordable financial services in the world and ranked fourth in ease of access to loans, according to the executive opinion survey.
Singapore ranked first for the quality of higher education, according to the executive opinion survey, but 30th in the tertiary education enrolment rate, according to Unesco. South Korea was first, followed by Finland, Greece, Slovenia, Taiwan, the United States, Denmark, Ukraine, Venezuela and New Zealand.
There is no reason why the enrolment rate should match the quality of education, of course, but you do notice the differences.
Download the Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum website to see the differences between the executive opinion survey and data from other sources.
Here are some top 20 lists from the report, which were based not the executive opinion survey but on other sources.
Life expectancy at birth (years). Source: World Bank
GDP per capita in US dollars, 2009. Source: International Monetary Fund
|8||United Arab Emirates||46,857|
GDP as percentage of world GDP based on purchasing power parity, 2009. Source: International Monetary Fund.
National savings rate as percentage of GDP, 2009. Sources: Economist Intelligence Unit, IMF, World Bank, national sources.
Exports as percentage of GDP, 2009. Sources: Economist Intelligence Unit, World Bank.
|10||United Arab Emirates||72.6|
|12||Trinidad & Tobago||72.1|
Imports as percentage of GDP, 2009. Sources: Economist Intelligence Unit, World Bank.
Internet users per 100 population, 2009. Sources: International Telecommunication Union, World Bank.
|10||United Arab Emirates||82.6|
Broadband subscriptions per 100 population, 2009. Source: International Telecommunication Union.