Global rankings and how they are done

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.

From World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2010

(These charts from the Global Competitiveness Report are based not on the executive opinion survey but on other sources.)

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How the Global Competitiveness Report is prepared

There were more respondents from Singapore than from many bigger economies to the World Economic Forum's executive opinion survey this year.

The survey is used to prepare the annual Global Competitiveness Report.

Singapore was ranked the world's third most competitive economy this year, same as last year.

This year there were 122 respondents from Singapore compared with 437 in the United States and only 102 in the United Kingdom and 103 in India. There were only 132 respondents from Japan but 362 from China.

Singapore also enjoys greater cohesion than, say, America, Britain or India. Politics is far more polarized in those countries. Have you ever heard a Republican praise a Democrat?

Such polarization can affect a country's ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report because of the way it is compiled.

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Public trust of politicians highest in Singapore

Singapore is first in the world for quality of higher education, first in math and science and Singapore's politicians enjoy the highest public trust in the world.

That's according to the Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011, released by the World Economic Forum today.

Singapore remains the world's third most competitive economy, overtaken by Sweden, which has jumped to second place from fourth. Sweden also has the third most trusted politicians in the world, after Singapore and Qatar. (See the list of countries with the most trusted politicians at the end of this post.)

Switzerland remains the world's most competitive economy for the second year running, while America, the former No 1 which dropped to second spot last year, is now down to fourth place. Swiss politicians are the 12th most trusted in the world.

Singapore finishes in the top 20 in almost every category except judicial independence, in which it is ranked 21st, and intensity of local competition, in which it is ranked 28th.

The report is based on national and international data as well as an executive opinion survey. In  Singapore, the business executives surveyed were selected with the help of the Economic Development Board. See How the Global Competitiveness Report is prepared.

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Singapore 3rd most competitive economy

Singapore remains the world's third most competitive economy, overtaken by Sweden, which moves up to the second spot from fourth place last year.

Switzerland remains No 1 in the Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011, released today by the World Economic Forum.

World's 10 most competitive economies: Global Competitiveness 2010-2011 rankings

The big loser is America, dropping to fourth position after already ceding the top place to Switzerland last year.  The report says, "There has been a weakening of the United States’ public and private institutions" and notes "lingering concerns about the state of its financial markets".

The report says Singapore ranks

  • First for lack of corruption and for government efficiency
  • First for the efficiency of its goods and labour markets
  • Second for its financial market sophistication
  • Fifth for infrastructure.

Singapore's competitiveness is "buttressed by a strong focus on education, providing individuals with the skills needed for a rapidly changing global economy," says the report.

However, Singapore could "encourage even stronger adoption of the latest technologies as well as policies that enhance the sophistication of its companies", it adds.

Singapore scores lower for innovation, market sophistication, and technological readiness than for health and education, infrastructure, institutions, and efficiency in goods and labour markets. You can see the full report on the World Economic Forum website.

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Singapore emigration and immigration compared with other countries

Singapore has the highest immigration rate in Asia Pacific after Hong Kong, according to the 2009 United Nations Development Report. Hong Kong's emigration rate  is also higher than Singapore's.

I looked up the report after Ms Amy Khor, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Environment and Water Resources, mentioned the UN Human Development Index in Parliament. You can see the report here and the statistics here.

Singapore is ranked 23rd on the index, as she said. It is one of only five Asian countries with very high human development, according to the index, based on life expectancy, literacy and standard of living. The others are Japan (10th), Hong Kong (24th), South Korea (26th) and Brunei (30th).

Norway is first, Australia second, Iceland third, Canada fourth and Ireland fifth on the list of 38 countries with very high human development, which include all the rich Western nations though some do better than others: the Netherlands (sixth), Sweden (seventh), France (eighth), Switzerland (ninth), America (13th), New Zealand (20th), the United Kingdom (21st) and Germany (22nd).  The Middle East is represented by Israel (27th), Kuwait (31st), Qatar (33rd) and the United Arab Emirates (35th).


Interestingly, some of the countries with very high human development also have high immigration rates. It's as high as 20 per cent in Ireland, 13.1 per cent in Ireland and 11.8 per cent in New Zealand. Hong Kong is also close to double digits with 9.5 per cent. The United Kingdom also shows a slightly higher figure (6.6 per cent) than Singapore (6.3 per cent). Emigration from the United States is as low as 0.8 per cent, same as that from India, but just a little more than from Japan (0.7 per cent) and China (0.5 per cent).  India and China are not on the list of 38 countries with very high human development, which are all named at the end of this post.

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