London Based Legatum Institute has recently released (November) the Prosperity Index for 2015. Israel placed 38th among 142 countries. The criteria used to evaluate the standing of each country was based on such factors as the economy, governance, education, health, entrepreneurship and opportunity, safety and security, personal freedom, and social capital.
European countries were well represented in the top ten with Norway taking the first spot, followed by Switzerland, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Finland, and Ireland at number ten. The U.S. was ranked 11th.
Apparently the safety and security criteria impacted on Israel’s standing, albeit, in a prejudicial way on the part of the evaluators. Yet, in the economy category, Israel was ranked 16th, ahead of the Republic of Korea 17th, United Kingdom (UK) 19th, Austria 22nd, Belgium 23rd, Japan 25th, France 30th, and Ireland 31st. The U.S. was ranked 11th again.
In the Education category, Israel once again was ranked 16th, ahead of such seemingly prosperous countries as Sweden ranking 17th, Switzerland 18th, Republic of Korea 20th, Belgium 21st, Austria 24th,
UK 25th, and France 26th. The U.S. was ranked 9th in this category.
The governance category too, was kind to Israel, ranking the Jewish state 25th out of 142 states, ahead of Spain ranked 27th, Slovenia 33rd, the Czech Republic 34th, Republic of Korea 35th and Taiwan 36th. The U.S. was ranked 11th, while the UK and France ranked 9th and 20th respectively.
Israel got clobbered in the safety and security category. The British Legatum Institute exaggerated, perhaps out of bias stemming from the negative coverage of Israel by the British media, when it placed Israel 98th among the 142 ranked states. Considering that countries such as United Arab Emirates was ranked 34th in this category, and South Korea (Republic of Korea) 17th, should raise some questions as to the reliability of the findings. With nuclear North Korea governed by an unstable dictator possessing nuclear weapons constantly threatening its southern neighbor, one would doubt that Koreans feel safe or secure. It is rather questionable to consider Saudi Arabia, ranked 73rd as more safe and secure than Israel, or for that matter Greece, ranked 27th, where their people feel economic and social desperation and insecurity. Ukraine, ranked 54th is not only economically downtrodden, but the civil war in eastern Ukraine makes it definitely unsafe and insecure. Jordan, ranked 84th, threatened by the Islamic State (IS) and beset by radical Islamists who would like to join the IS Caliphate, does not make it safer or more secure than Israel.
Perhaps the most unfair ranking occurred in the personal freedom category where Israel was ranked 98th again. Israel is one of the most vibrant democracies in the world, where the citizenry enjoys full civil and human rights, religious freedom, and clearly a great deal of personal freedom for both Arab and Jewish citizens. Moreover these freedoms are maintained in spite of Arab-Palestinian terror against Israelis. Placing countries such as Taiwan ranking 31st and Hong Kong, ranked 26th, (which is ruled by non-democratic China), United Arab Emirates 65th and Kuwait 84th (ruled by authoritarian and non-democratic Emirs) ahead of Israel is simply outrageous. Consider the fact that Legatum ranked a failed state such as the Central African Republic, which ranked 142nd overall, ahead of Israel in terms of personal freedom (ranking 93rd), casts doubt as to the accuracy and objectivity of the evaluators.
Israel’s Arab neighbors fared rather poorly. Jordan’s overall ranking by Legatum Institute was 88th, Lebanon 98th, Egypt fared even worse at 110th, Iraq, worse yet, at 123rd, and Syria was ranked close to the very bottom at 136th.
Israel’s overall ranking declined in comparison with previous years. In 2009 it was ranked 33rd, in 2010 it ranked 36th, but dropped in 2012 to be ranked at 40th. Evidently, the Gaza wars had a direct impact on the ranking, yet Israel still excelled in virtually all categories evaluated.
One field the Legatum Prosperity Index ignored was birthrates. The same European countries that scored very high on the Legatum index are states with an aging population below replacement. Germany’s birthrate in 2015 was 8.47 per thousand, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA survey (2015 estimates) ranks Germany 217th out of 224 countries and territories. Japan was even worse off with 7.93 births per thousand, ranked 222nd, South Korea with 8.19 births, ranks 220th, Denmark showed 10.27 births per thousand, ranks 191st, Norway ranked 163rd with 12.14 per thousand, and the U.S. stood at 12.49 births per thousand, ranking it 158th. Israel’s births per thousand exceeded them all with 18.48 (ranked 96th). For a healthy society to maintain itself and have a reliable workforce, a society needs 21 births per thousand or at least two children per family. Israel is, therefore, the closest among the industrialized nations to meet that goal.
In terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) real annual growth, Israel with 2.5% (2014 estimate by CIA) growth topped the U.S. with 2.4%, Sweden 2.1%, Norway 1.8%, and Switzerland 1.3%. The Economist Magazine, (November 7, 2015) lists Israel’s GDP growth for 2015 at 3.3%, the U.S. at 2.4%, Germany at 1.6%, Switzerland at 0.9%, and Norway at 0.7%. Since unemployment is related to prosperity, the figures given by the Economist shows that Israel is in a much better position than all the European Union states with 5.1% unemployment compared to France at 8.7%, Netherlands at 8.3%, Canada at 7.1%, Sweden 6.7%, Germany 6.4% and the U.S. matched that of Israel at 5.1%.
In 2014, the United Kingdom’s (UK) Daily Mail ranked 96 nations on the quality of life for the over 60’s population. Israel was placed 18th on the list with an overall value of 72.2 points. The index included such factors as income security, health status, capability, and an enabling environment. Israel was ahead of Spain, ranked 21st, Czech Republic 25th, Belgium 27th, Slovenia 29th and South Korea 50th.
Another relevant measurement that impacts on prosperity and quality of life is life expectancy at birth.
Israel ranked 11th at 82.27 years in this category out of 224 nations in the 2015 survey. The U.S. was far behind, ranked 43rd with average life-expectancy of 79.68, S. Korea 39th at 80.04 years, the European Union average was 80.70 years ranked 38th, UK 33rd with an average of 80.54, Germany was ranked 32nd at 80.57 years, and Norway ranked 20th with 81.70 average.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) had this to say in its report on Israel: “In general Israelis are more satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to state their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Israelis gave it a 7.4 grade, higher than the OECD average of 6.6.” The OECD membership includes all the world’s industrial states (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Czech Rep., Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland Portugal, Russian Rep., Slovak Rep., Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK and the U.S.).
Israel is fondly known as the Startup Nation by people who appreciate the miraculous transformation of a nation under siege into a technologically innovative giant. Israel maintains a vibrant democracy, and one of the highest qualities of life standards, while combating boycotts, divestments, sanctions, and Palestinian terror. Given these odds against it, Israel should be ranked number 1.
Leave a Reply