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Country Rankings: Inclusive Growth and Development Report, 2017 [WEF]

February 27, 2017


Table-form topline rankings can be found pp. 60-63 (printed page numbering) (note: pdf file formatted with 2 printed pages per electronic page), with 20 more pages of detailed breakdown tables in many categories.

This is the WEF’s economic well-being ranking system, designed to feature a combination of the usual per-capita income and growth measures, but specifically focusing on inclusion, intergenerational equity, and other extended measures of personal and societal well being.

Note that the vintage of the underlying data ranges from 2014-2016, and in some cases recent developments are not reflected.

Interestingly, the US, China, Russia, and Japan all have about the same overall score on this index, with Germany, France, UK, and Canada just slightly ahead, with the usual suspects (Scandinavians, mostly) ranking at the top. So it seems the authors are being very sensitive.

The detailed data is informative, if you have the time (pp. 72-84).

The top 3, Norway, Switzerland, and Luxembourg also boast the highest per-capita GDP’s and highest “labor productivity” (GDP-PPP-adj per person employed), so maybe we shouldn’t look to their examples *too* much. Although they certainly seem to have competently managed their wealth.

More interesting is Iceland, which makes 4th place, even though its income is middle-of-the-pack for advanced economies.

France, Germany, and Canada, though all have inequality issues, show a lower poverty rates (defined in this system as making half the median income) than the US.

The US does quite well (#6) in labor productivity, but comes in below average in overall score among advanced economies, perhaps due to high poverty rate, inequality, and public debt. Education, infrastructure, and fiscal transfers are areas to work on as well. Entrepreneurship is a bright spot.

Japan comes in unexpectedly low, below the US, which I would not have expected since this is supposed to be a per-person “quality” ranking. Their obvious blemishes within this scoring system are poverty rate, comparable to US level, and extreme public debt, though in that regard Japan definitely deserves a break from holding nearly all its own debt, unlike many other countries. Japan has markedly lower wealth and income Gini than US.

Russia does surprisingly well overall within the developing country group. Weak spots were high inequality, carbon intensity, and life expectancy ranking lagging behind other measures. Education, employment, fiscal transfers, and public debt were strong areas. As a short term consideration, income data in this ranking may not include the full effects of oil price declines in recent years.

China was also is hit with high inequality and carbon intensity. It still has notably low per capita income figures, especially considering its already-dominant and still rising position in many sectors of global industry. The flip side is there is still tremendous room for growth in that area. Education, employment, entrepreneurship, and savings were strong areas.

For comparison, India’s ranking is pretty awful, with the majority of categories colored in red or orange.

Also I want to note that despite its global importance, the “carbon intensity” of this study has a weird methodology. Norway, a big energy producer but small consumer, has one of the lowest carbon scores – half of Luxembourg, whereas the carbon arithmetic for Singapore yields a huge carbon intensity level.


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