Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Another lot of international rankings -- of prosperity, by Legatum

The countries listed as most prosperous (See below) are broadly as one would expect but there are some glaring anomalies both with the final results and the way they are calculated.  A very large absurdity is giving New Zealand a much higher ranking than Australia.  While that will undoubtedly give Kiwis a glow, it does not explain the brutal fact that migration between Australia and NZ is almost all one-way.  Kiwis flee their country and move to Australia in droves.  Real wages are much higher in Australia and there must be few Kiwis who are unaware of that. So it will be surprising news to Kiwis to hear that NZ is more prosperous than Australia.

The problem arises because "wellbeing" or "Quality of life" is included in the index and assessing that cannot be done objectively. I have not been able to pick why NZ did so well but it is certainly broadly true that NZ is a pleasant place -- as long as you don't mind earthquakes and high rates of crime and child abuse perpetrated by the Maori.

And looking in detail at the methodology used, there clearly are some oddities.  I was amused that separation of powers in government was included.  That system does prevail in the USA and France but lots of other countries get by perfectly well without it (Australia, Canada, Britain etc).  I would call that a nonsense criterion of prosperity.

Mr Obama doesn't believe in the separation of powers anyway.  He thinks he's got a "pen and a phone" with which he can usurp the legislative monopoly of Congress.

Infant mortality is another absurdity.  Cuba has a lower infant mortality than the USA,  Does that make Cuba more prosperous than the USA?  No.  It just means that American hospitals go to great lengths to succour premature births and that does not always succeed.  Similar births in Cuba would all be counted as stillborn.

And what about religious attendance? That is high in the USA, Russia and  Muslim countries but very low in Britain and Australia.  Does that mean that Russia and Muslim countries are more prosperous than Britain and Australia?  Judging by the desperate measures Muslims take in order to get into Britain and Australia, I think we once again have to say that "voting with your feet" reveals the true situation.

And what you think of climate can vary too.  Cold is most life-threatening but some people prefer it nonetheless.  Living in Alaska is a choice, after all.  I could go on ....

The graphic below summarizes the findings:


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

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