Aurum restaurant Executive Chef Edward Voon (L) serves a unique cuisine known as molecular gastronomy -- an avant-garde cooking movement that uses scientific methods to create new flavors in food. REUTERS/Tim Chong

The U.S. stacks up better in this updated measure of the competitiveness of countries

Earlier this week I identified the world’s leading nations on innovation, technology and the creative class. Today, I turn to a new, more comprehensive measure of global economic competitiveness and prosperity my team and I have created, the Global Creativity Index.

The ongoing economic crisis has seriously challenged to the way we understand and measure economic growth. An increasing number of economists, social scientists, and policy-makers suggest that traditional measures like Gross National Product have outlived their usefulness and have sought to replace them with broader measures of economic prosperity, sustainability, and/or happiness and subjective well-being. As Joseph Stiglitz put it: “What you measure affects what you do. If we have the wrong metrics, we will strive for the wrong things.”

The Global Creativity Index evaluates and ranks 82 nations on Technology, Talent, and Tolerance, the three critical “Ts” of economic development. The GCI is a broad composite measure based on key measures of technology (R&D investment, researchers, and patents per capita), talent (educational attainment and the creative class) and tolerance (from Gallup surveys of the treatment of immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, and gays and lesbians).

The map above shows how the nations of the world stack up on the GCI. Once again, predictions of imminent American decline seem to be premature. The United States takes second place, behind only Sweden. Finland takes third, followed by Denmark in fourth, Australia in fifth, and New Zealand in sixth place. Canada takes seventh place together with Norway. Singapore and the Netherlands complete the top 10. Rounding out the top 20 are Belgium, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Germany, Spain, Taiwan, Italy and Hong Kong. Israel ranks 24th. Despite the many proclamations of their rising economic power, the BRIC nations still do not crack the upper tiers on the GCI: Russia ranks 30th, Brazil 46th, India 50th, and China only 58th. Based on this broad and comprehensive assessment, it seems highly unlikely that any of the BRICs, especially China, will overtake the United States or other advanced nations for quite some time. For more on this updated version of the Global Creativity Index, you can download the complete report here.

In my next and final post in this series, I’ll discuss how the Global Creativity Index can help us better understand not just economic competitiveness but overall happiness and well-being, as well as the very different ways that countries deal with economic inequality.

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