New Zealand has come joint ninth with Denmark in an international “prosperity index” compiled by a London think tank.
The Legatum Institute, run by three former senior White House staffers in the Bush administration, said that New Zealand had a consistently strong score across many sectors in the index of global wealth and wellbeing.
Good education and governance indicators put the country in 10th spot for competitiveness while it took 12th place for comparative liveability.
Legatum’s index comprises not only wealth but satisfaction as well.
“The index does not rank countries according to which have the most material wealth or the highest levels of happiness at a given time,” the report says in this its second annual release.
“Rather, it is an index of drivers, which means that countries are ranked by how well they are doing at fostering economic growth and improved quality of life.”
Australia tops the list, followed by Austria and Finland, tying for second.
Germany, Singapore and the US tie for third, while the UK finds itself in joint 14th spot.
The report says that Australia makes a virtue of entrepreneurship as a source of material wealth while pursuing broader societal wellbeing through high levels of volunteering and charitable giving.
On New Zealand, Legatum says that since the decision to embrace free market reforms in the 1980s, the country has been diversified into a prosperous and diversified economy.
It notes the CER with Australia as well as the “landmark” free-trade agreement with China last year and says that efforts to pursue other FTAs in the region, both bilaterally and through ASEAN, “should have significant effect in the near future.”
A major agricultural exporter, the country was seen as being well-positioned to benefit from high global food prices.
The report said that NZ’s governance had stabilised after years of “turbulent economic management” and now scored well in this area.
It also ranked highly for government effectiveness.
The high number of R&D researchers in the workforce also provided optimism for future growth.
“New Zealand scores well nearly across the board and benefits from extremely good political life scores, especially its control of corruption and political rights and civil liberties ratings,” the report said.
Income provided a strong foundation for life satisfaction in general and the health-adjusted life expectancy was a good 70.8 years (though elsewhere the report appeared to indicate it was 80.24 years).
Favourable mention is also made of the natural beauty of the country and strong levels of environmental protection, which provides social and economic benefits.
Tourism employed more than 100,000 people and the report said that there were likely to be future export earnings from the green technology sector.
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