The Netherlands climbs to 5th most competitive economy in world

The Netherlands has the 5th most competitive economy in the world according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2015-16.

The Netherlands climbed three places to 5th from last year, regaining its highest-ever position in the index on the back of small improvements across a wide range of indicators.

The Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 assesses the competitiveness of 140 world economies.

Competitiveness Index 2015 - Global Top 10

Rank Country
1 Switzerland
2 Singapore
3 United States
4 Germany
5 The Netherlands
6 Japan
7 Hong Kong SAR
8 Finland
9 Sweden
10 United Kingdom

Measuring competitiveness

Using a mixture of quantitative and survey data, the index ranks countries overall by combining 113 indicators grouped under 12 pillars of competitiveness which include institutions, infrastructure, health and education, labour market efficiency; financial market development, business sophistication and innovation.

The Netherlands’ strongest scores

The Netherlands' strongest scores come in areas including education (3rd), infrastructure (3rd), institutions (10th), business sophistication (5th) and innovation (8th).

Its weaknesses include labour inflexibilities and continuing doubts about its financial markets. The Netherlands' score on financial market development is still significantly lower than in 2007, before the global financial crisis and the bursting of the Netherlands’ real estate bubble.

Ranking within Europe

The Netherlands ranked 3rd within Europe, after Switzerland and Germany. Switzerland maintains 1st position for the 7th year in a row, leading the world in its capacity to innovate and scores highly for its education system and labour market efficiency.

Germany and Sweden rise in the ranks to 4th and 9th position respectively, whilst Finland drops four places to 8th and the UK from 9th to 10th place.

Competitiveness Index 2015 - European Top 10

Country 2015 rank 2014 rank
Switzerland 1 1
Germany 4 5
The Netherlands 5 8
Finland 8 4
Sweden 9 10
United Kingdom 10 9
Norway 11 11
Denmark 12 13
Belgium 19 18
Luxembourg 20 19

Talent-driven economies

The WEF commented on a slow and less robust recovery from the financial crisis requiring a need to review high unemployment and identify and nurture new talent.

High unemployment figures are weighing heavily on societies, risking not only prolonged lower demand but also the deskilling of a significant part of the labour force and growing discontent.

The results presented in the report suggest that leveraging talent is at the heart of a competitive and resilient economy and countries that identify, nurture, use and reward talent are those that enjoy more robust growth and swifter recovery.

WEF also commented on the fundamental shift away from the traditional manufacturing industry to one where the continuously spreading use of ICTs is giving rise to entirely new consumption models and industries.

It suggested that talent-driven economies are the best equipped to adapt to the changes brought about by this so-called fourth industrial revolution and reap their benefits.

Parvinder Marwaha


Parvinder Marwaha

British-born editor Parvinder studied architecture in the UK. Amsterdam’s architecture and design scene led her to the city, as well the obvious perks of canal-side living. She writes for various...

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