In a lot of ways, it can appear challenging to ascertain why some countries prosper and why others seem to remain stagnant or even fall behind. While you can ponder the reasons behind these rises and falls, there is an Institute that specializes in bringing all the data together and analyzing it in a meaningful way.
Each year, the Legatum Institute publishes a Prosperity Index that aims to illuminate how nations have moved closer to or further away from prosperity. The mission of the Legatum Institute and their research is to assist the world in recognizing which pathways lead to prosperity so that the knowledge can be utilized in other states where further assistance is required.
With data from 149 countries, the Index looks at nine pillars (Economic Quality, Business Environment, Governance, Personal Freedom, Social Capital, Safety and Security, Education, Health, and the Natural Environment) that detail the stipulations needed for prosperity. By looking in more detail at these pillars, you can start to build a picture of what is working in the world and what isn’t.
Continue reading to learn which pillars helped countries rise in 2018 and why two countries in particular saw a surge in their prosperity ranking.
According to the 2018 Legatum Prosperity Index, the most critical determinant of whether or not a country has risen significantly in the overall rankings over the past decade was an improved Safety and Security score. The conclusion of conflict was crucial for several countries that have seen themselves rise in the prosperity rankings. Examples are Tajikistan and Sri Lanka where decades of civil war came to an end, and Comoros where secessionist conflicts were defeated.
In fact, 75% of the countries that experienced a rise in their overall ranking had improved in the Safety and Security pillar. This reveals that for widespread prosperity to be achieved, instability and insecurity that result from conflict must be overcome first.
Additionally, countries that rose in overall prosperity also all saw a rise in their ranking for the Business Environment pillar. The connection of these two pillars demonstrates that when a country has a solid base of Safety and Security (and when its citizens, therefore, feel secure within the borders), only then can there be an appropriate environment for business to develop.
In fact, according to the Legatum Institute, "Rising prosperity is achievable by almost any country when it achieves a degree of safety. It does not matter where a country is ranked now, rather its direction and speed of travel up the rankings are based on the reforms and choices made by its government, leaders and business entrepreneurs."
Here are two examples of countries which saw themselves rise in the 2018 Index.
Over the past decade, the Eastern European country of Georgia has consistently seen an increase in its prosperity and has impressively improved its score across all nine pillars. One of the critical factors to its rise can be linked to the government’s decision to focus on security. This, in turn, laid the appropriate foundations for subsequent reforms to be successful.
The first changes prioritized national security and restoring institutional frameworks to mitigate misconduct and corruption. Additionally, the country embraced a zero-tolerance policy on crime which saw crime rates drop and trust in police rise.
Indeed, the choice to concentrate on security proved to be the right choice for Georgia as the nation has improved all its institutional foundation scores over the past decade.
In 2008, Zimbabwe was ranked 137th, while in 2018 it had moved to 118th in the rankings – an increase of 19 places. Despite having been witness to a history filled with economic emergencies, autocratic rule, political violence, and disease, the country has been able to create an environment for relative development to transpire.
Due to the decrease in violence in the 2013 elections and the passage of a constitutional term limit, in 2014, Zimbabwe moved out of the bottom 10 countries in the Governance rankings for the first time in the Legatum Institute Index’s history. After that, its civil liberties score rose, judicial independence is improving, and the nation’s political terror score has increased.
That being said, Zimbabwe’s position as a prosperous nation is more fragile than a country such as Georgia due to poverty being a prominent issue (with 21.4% of the population in absolute poverty and 72.3% in relative poverty). For the state to continue building its prosperity, it seems as though more extensive reforms need to occur soon.