Switzerland remains most competitive economy

Education is one factor that explains Swiss competitiveness Keystone

Switzerland is the most economically competitive country in the world for the fourth year in a row, according to an annual World Economic Forum (WEF) report.

This content was published on September 5, 2012 - 12:12 and agencies

The Global Competitiveness Report, released on Wednesday, cites Swiss innovation and its efficient labour market as the country’s greatest strengths, followed by its sophisticated business sector.

The quality of Switzerland’s research institutions, the high level of collaboration between the academic and business sectors and its high rate of product patenting also contributed to the ranking.

Training and education play a role in Switzerland’s economic success as well, with a wealth of on-the-job training opportunities and a strong correlation between employee education and employer needs. Government and institutions are among the most transparent and effective worldwide, ensuring business confidence and supporting economic output.

Switzerland’s university enrolment rate remains low compared to many other innovative countries, however. Although it has been improving in recent years, the report states that the Swiss will have to boost enrolment to stay competitive.

Globally, the report noted a “fragile” economic environment and highlighted a growing divide between the top and bottom ranked countries, particularly in Europe.

Northern European countries such as third-place Finland, fourth-place Sweden, fifth-place Netherlands and sixth-place Germany have become economic powerhouses, while much of the rest of Europe continues to struggle with recession and unemployment problems.

Singapore finished second thanks to its strong public and private institutions as well as its quality infrastructure.

The United States slipped in the rankings for the fourth year in a row, to seventh as a result of growing concern in the business community over its divisive political climate and slow economic recovery. However, the US was lauded for its innovation outputs and efficient markets.

The Global Competitiveness Report is generated annually by comparing economic data surrounding 12 key categories known as “pillars of competitiveness”. Together, those pillars, ranging from infrastructure and education to market efficiency and business sophistication, make up an economic picture of each country ranked in the report and provide an overall score.

A similar study released by the Lausanne-based IMD business school in May ranked Switzerland third in global competitiveness, behind Hong Kong and the US. The study praised Switzerland’s stable political environment and management of public finances, but cited the strong franc as a concern.


1. Switzerland (2011 rank: 1)

2. Singapore  (2011 rank: 2)

3. Finland  (2011 rank: 4)

4. Sweden  (2011 rank: 3)

5. Netherlands  (2011 rank: 7)

6. Germany  (2011 rank: 6)

7. United States (2011 rank: 5)

8. United Kingdom (2011 rank: 10)

9. Hong Kong (2011 rank: 11)

10. Japan (2011 rank: 9)


16. Austria (2011 rank: 19)

21. France (2011 rank: 18)<

36. Spain (2011 rank: 36)

42. Italy (2011 rank: 43)

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