IMD, a Swiss business school, has calculated the World Competitiveness Index since 1989. They do this on the basis of 258 indicators, ranging from trade and employment figures to surveys about corruption, the environment and the quality of life. They look at economic performance, good governance, efficiency in the business world and ‘infrastructure’. The latter also includes matters such as education and healthcare. ‘Hard’ quantitative & objective data is weighted twice as heavy as ‘soft’ subjective and qualitative data, such as questionnaires.
It will come as no surprise that we also score badly on this competitiveness index, and, once again, only France scores lower in North and West Europe. The causes for this are recognisable: fiscal (penultimate place), budgetary and labour market policy scores poorly, just like our basic infrastructure (including the road and rail network); international trade, productivity of companies and education save our face somewhat. Remarkable here is also a poor score for international investment (place 57 out of 63) and an excellent social fabric (place 7).
Here also, the Netherlands (4) follow a balanced path, with places in the top 10 for three out of four main categories. While we have fallen 3 places, they have even managed to rise one place, with Switzerland now behind them.