The United States has fallen to fifth place on the list of the most competitive economies in the world, according to a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum. Switzerland topped the list for the third year in a row, with Singapore jumping ahead of Sweden to take the second spot. Finland moved up to fourth ahead of the United States.
The World Economic Forum’s survey assesses global economies based on 12 “pillars of competitiveness” such as infrastructure, innovation and macroeconomic environment.
In 2008 the forum put the US in the number one spot due to strong productivity, commercial sophistication, standard of education and the resilience of the labor market. While this year’s report still acknowledges these positives, it also pointed out a “number of escalating weaknesses,” including mounting deficit, and declining trust in politicians and government efficiency, which pushed the US down the list.
Switzerland’s position at the top of the 142 countries surveyed was a reflection of its “continuing strong performance across the board.”
Europe Holding Strong
Despite the crisis of confidence in European banks, the top ten was dominated by Western European economies. Euro zone powerhouse Germany ranked sixth behind the US, with the Netherlands and Denmark next in line. Britain rounded out the top ten behind Japan.
France slipped three places to 18th, with debt-stricken Greece falling back to 90th. Of the other European countries to receive financial bailouts, Ireland maintained 29th spot and Portugal moved up one to 45th.
Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the forum, said the survey showed the competitiveness of developed markets had slowed in recent years, while in emerging economies there was an upward trend. “Much of the developing world is still seeing relatively strong growth, despite some risk of overheating, while most advanced economies continue to experience sluggish recovery, persistent unemployment and financial vulnerability, with no clear horizon for improvement,” said Schwab.
The best performer among developing nations was China, which moved up one spot to 26th. South Africa came through in 50th place and Brazil moved up to 53rd, while India ranked 56th and Russia 66th.
The highest-placed Middle Eastern nation was Qatar in 14th with Saudi Arabia 17th. Chile was the best ranked Latin American economy with 31st spot.
Each year, the World Economic Forum assesses public economic data and surveys over 14,000 business executives from 142 countries, rating them on overall institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.
Key Statistics – Top 10 World Economic Competitors by Score (source: World Economic Forum)
1) Switzerland 5.74
2) Singapore 5.63
3) Sweden 5.61
4) Finland 5.47
5) The United States 5.43
6) Germany 5.41
7) Netherlands 5.41
8) Denmark 5.40
9) Japan 5.40
10) United Kingdom 5.39