Special Report

The World's Best (and Worst) Economies

5. The Netherlands
> GCI score: 5.50
> GDP per capita: $50,355 (10th highest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 66.2% (35th highest)
> Individuals using Internet: 92.3% (3rd highest)
> Infant mortality rates: 3.6 per 1,000 live births (21st lowest)

The Netherlands is strongest in the fields of business sophistication, and health and primary education, ranking fourth and fifth respectively out of all 144 countries. The Netherlands has among the highest rated use of sophisticated marketing strategies — a core component of developing business sophistication. The fact that primary education enrollment is almost universal boosts the health and primary education rankings. When asked to identify the biggest hurdle to conducting business in the country, the most common answer was access to financing. Despite this perception, the Netherlands ranked sixth out of 144 countries in terms to the availability of financial services.

4. Sweden
> GCI score: 5.53
> GDP per capita: $56,956 (8th highest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 37.4% (64th lowest)
> Individuals using Internet: 91.0% (4th highest)
> Infant mortality rates: 2.3 per 1,000 live births (5th lowest)

Sweden is considered the most technologically ready country by the WEF, scoring higher than all 144 countries on both the availability of the latest technologies and firm-level technology absorption, which is the degree that businesses use the technology available to them. When asked to name the biggest obstacle to doing business, the most common answer was tax rates. As evidence, the country’s 52.8% total tax rate on profits was well above that of the two most competitive countries in the world. Switzerland’s tax rate is 30.1% of profits, while Singapore has a tax rate of 27.1%.

Also Read: Countries That Spend the Most on Health Care

3. Finland
> GCI score: 5.55
> GDP per capita: $49,350 (12th highest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 48.6% (52nd highest)
> Individuals using Internet: 89.4% (7th highest)
> Infant mortality rates: 2.4 per 1,000 live births (7th lowest)

Contributing to its high competitive standing, Finland is the second most innovative economy in the world, only behind Switzerland. Notably, the country scores the highest in terms of the availability of scientists and engineers. Finland’s educational system is also impressive, as the WEF asserts the country has the highest quality of primary education, and the second highest quality math and science programs in higher education. While Finland scores relatively well across most economic measures, the country’s macroeconomic environment has weakened slightly due to moderately high inflation, although the problem is not nearly as serious as it is in other countries in Europe.

2. Singapore
> GCI score: 5.67
> GDP per capita: $49,271 (13th highest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 100.8% (10th highest)
> Individuals using Internet: 75.0% (24th highest)
> Infant mortality rates: 2.1 per 1,000 live births (3rd lowest)

If Americans have had it with their elected officials, they may want to consider moving to Singapore — it has the highest score of all 144 countries in terms of the quality of its legal and administrative frameworks. Notably, the country has the best score of all countries in terms of public trust in politicians, minimizing wastefulness in government spending and transparency in government policymaking. Meanwhile, the U.S. scores 54th in terms of public trust, 76th in wastefulness and 56th in transparency. Singapore also ranks at the top for goods market efficiency, and second in infrastructure, higher education and training, labor market efficiency, and financial market development. The country’s 5.2% rate of inflation is dampening its competitiveness as more residents cite increasing costs as the biggest hurdle to doing business.

1. Switzerland
> GCI score: 5.72
> GDP per capita: $81,161 (4th highest)
> Debt as a pct. of GDP: 48.6% (51st highest)
> Individuals using Internet: 85.2% (10th highest)
> Infant mortality rates: 4.1 per 1,000 live births (24th lowest)

Switzerland is the most globally competitive country, receiving the top overall score from the WEF. Switzerland received a score of 6.6 out of 7 in the quality of its infrastructure, the highest of all 144 countries. Switzerland also scored at the top in cooperation in labor-employer relations and the availability of financial services. The country scored very well in higher education, receiving the highest score of all countries in quality of the educational system, availability of research and training services, and extent of staff training. However, the WEF points out that the university’s enrollment rate, while improving, still lags behind other “high-innovation countries.”

Click here to read The World’s Worst Economies

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