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Sweden passes US in competitiveness survey

TT/David Landes · 9 Sep 2010, 11:03

Published: 09 Sep 2010 11:03 GMT+02:00

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Sweden climbed two spots in the Geneva-based organisation’s annual Global Competitiveness Report, landing in second place behind Switzerland, which topped the rankings for the second year in a row.

The United States, which held the number two spot last year, moved down to the fourth position, while Singapore retained its lock on third place.

Sweden’s Nordic neighbours all placed high in the survey, with Finland (7th) and Denmark (9th) among the top 10, and with Norway at 14th.

According to Stefan Fölster, chief economist at the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Näringsliv), a strong economy, sound public finances and high growth are all contributing factors to Sweden’s high ranking.

He cautioned, however, that the rankings say little about what lies ahead.

“Unfortunately, there is no connection at all between these rankings and future growth. These lists focus quite a bit on macroeconomic factors, but very little on conditions for small business, for example,” Fölster told the TT news agency.

Sweden was the number one country in a number of the survey’s ranking factors, including intellectual property protection, ethical behaviour of firms, availability of advanced technologies, and private sector R&D spending.

However, the report pointed singled out restrictive labour regulations, high tax rates, and tax regulations as factors which remain problematic for doing business in Sweden.

The Global Competitiveness Report’s competitiveness ranking is based on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), which takes into account 12 pillars of competitiveness.

Story continues below…

The pillars include institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.

According to the World Economic Forum, the survey, which is based on responses from 13,500 business leaders in 139 countries, is designed to capture a broad range of factors affecting an economy’s business climate.

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TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:02 September 9, 2010 by Rishonim
If Sweden can achieve that position from only employing the traditional Swedes, I reckon they would do much better if they integrate talented educated people from within their society (qualified immigrants)
14:28 September 9, 2010 by Jan M
It's because we're not broke. Nothing to do with competitiveness in the traditional sense. This year's assessment was based also on whether countries have the assets to withstand financial downturns.
14:29 September 9, 2010 by glamelixir

EXACTLY, actually the US trick to excellence is absorving all well educated and succesful foreigners and intruducing them into their school systems and work markets.

Most of the great scientists living in the US withgreat careers and achievements are foreigners that have recieved scholarships from the US due to their excellence abroad.

A shame that for Swedes immigration is a big bag that lacks individualities. They only consider refugees (either if it is against or forward, either if it is for giving them benefits or not, but only refugees), we are some strange floating device that nobody talks about in this society.
15:03 September 9, 2010 by byke
Obviously, based on this article Sweden doesn't have any insecurity issues.
15:58 September 9, 2010 by Roy E
If Sweden is becoming more competitive, it is a good thing. But comparing it to America right now is a very poor yardstick with which to measure. The

Obama Administration is waging war on America's private sector right now. Whether the American economy recovers from the poisoned environment and hostility to job creators any time soon is an open question. It looks like things will be getting much worse before they get better, so American business is hunkered down in bunkers until the insanity passes .

So if you want to objectively measure Sweden's improvement, you're far better off comparing Sweden to Sweden in a 'before' versus 'after' or, barring and specific reforms or actions, a 'now' versus 'then' manner.
16:27 September 9, 2010 by Tall swede
@Roy E You dont think swedish job creators had to fight a war against the social democrats in sweden? Even the most anti-obama person in the world cant argue that he puts the private sector in a situation that can even compare to what the swedish private sector have to deal with.
16:54 September 9, 2010 by Renfeh Hguh
Rishonim & glamelixir, what the hell are you on about.

All of the educated or experienced foreigners I know here either have good positions within their companies or work as consultants earning substantially more than the Swedes they work with because they have skills the Swedes are lacking. I am sure I am not hanging with an elite group.

Don't fool yourselves into thinking this place is a closed shop, it is NOT! Maybe the unemployed foreigners have a dime a dozen skill set or are just not good enough to compete.

Sure some foreign trained doctors and others have to fight against the system but on the whole, it seems to me that Sweden does take advantage of the talent here.
17:06 September 9, 2010 by stupr
@ Renfeh Hguh

I agree! I have to hold back when I read the usual "Sweden does not employ foreigners...." posts. I am a foreigner and I found a great job in my profession after only 3 months. Now I do agree I was lucky, and my job is mainly English speaking, however most of my foreign friends are also in good jobs here in Stockholm. There is an obvious reason for this....we have made a HUGE effort to learn the language and integrate into Swedish society.

Every country has an issue with immigrants not being able to work in their chosen professions, I am from the UK and there is an issue there too. I am not saying Sweden does not have this same issue; however I do not think it is nearly as bad as what some of these posts make out, and no worse than many other countries.
18:14 September 9, 2010 by Roy E
@Tall Swede #6

I'm sure they did and I congratulate them on their success. I also applaud groups like Timbro for their efforts. I'm just saying that it makes more sense to measure those successes in absolute terms rather than relative terms.
19:33 September 9, 2010 by mojofat
@Roy E That was the most hilarious thing I've read all day. Straight off the funny pages of fox.com. I see you're howling for the fiscal responsibility that brought the US to the brink of a depression, did strangle it and much of the world with a deep recession (who needs regulation!), oversaw the largest transfer of wealth to private hands in history vis-a-vis "tax cuts" that targeted an elite group of individuals, a prescription drug plan that made a handful of pharma companies even richer, and two wars for good measure.

But yes, we shall wait for the current "insanity" to pass so that we can get back to properly destroying the country and the rest of the world with it. It's all in the name of good business after all!
21:21 September 9, 2010 by Youdee
@ Renfeh Hguh and @stupr:

Spot on. Same situation in my world.
23:48 September 9, 2010 by wxman
The Swedes have figured out how capitalism works. Too bad we CURRENTLY have leadership that doesn't understand this and thinks the state creates wealth.
03:59 September 10, 2010 by glamelixir
I have many examples around, sorry guys. I have foreign friends in companies but they have been transfered by their companies. This doesn´t mean that they don´t exist but c´mon, integrations has been an issue of debate in Sweden for so long now! You just can´t be in such denial and say that Sweden has the same level of integrations as the States!
09:33 September 10, 2010 by cogito

That sound you hear is thunderous applause and the stomping of feet.

Spot on!
13:01 September 10, 2010 by markusd
@mojofat, "...oversaw the largest transfer of wealth to private hands in history vis-a-vis "tax cuts" that targeted an elite group of individuals"

I'd really like to know why you think that a tax-cut is a "transfer of wealth". People create wealth, the government takes it. There is the transfer of wealth. A tax cut is simply a reduction of the transfer.

And along those lines, if I am a pickpocket and decide at the last moment to not take your wallet, does that mean that I gave you money? I'm just trying to figure out the logic you're using.
13:16 September 10, 2010 by americanska
@markusd - haha - good catch!
13:17 September 10, 2010 by flintis
@glamelixir: have you seen the integration around the Indian reserves or in the black communities in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, N&S Carolina, & there are no segregated communities in eg; NY & LA are there?

Here in Sweden it's a proportion of the immigrant population that are not interested in integrating, they are quite prepared to create their own little home from home.
13:28 September 10, 2010 by here for the summer

You are so wrong about the US and Sweden.

In the US most of the scientists I work with and I work with a lot are educated through at least through undergraduate in their home country. They only did their post doc here. The few exceptions didn't have lived on the money paid by their home country for the undergraduate. Sweden is being duped into thinking anyone else pays for education.

In Sweden as in the US any company will always hire the most qualified people . It's all about being profitable. The only exception but this is about skill to is language skills which applicable for many but not all jobs. Swedish not being a language you could learn in Chile requires that you come to Sweden and study just on the language . Not everyone can learn enough to be employable in all jobs .
13:32 September 10, 2010 by americanska
flintis - have you been to those places? just because america has a diverse integrated socienty isn't a bad thing.

in sweden you have the swedish culture - then eveyrone else that doesn't fit in.
14:22 September 10, 2010 by flintis
@americanska: Yes. I never said the diverse "integrated" society was a bad thing, quite the opposite I think the cosmopolitan attitude of the majority is commendable. I only brought to light the segregation issues that are obvious.

You made the hypocrytical statement:-

#in sweden you have the swedish culture - then eveyrone else that doesn't fit in# In the US you have the INDIAN culture so you could say it's everybody else that does not fit in.

There is a culture in Sweden which any person wanting to live here should respect & attempt to integrate into their chosen new society.

I emigrated to Sweden several yrs ago & have had no reluctance to learning the language or respecting the Swedish culture.

If I moved to the US I would respect the culture there and integrate.

It's a question of assimilation, if you want to fit in assimilate eg; When in Rome!!
20:21 September 10, 2010 by mkvgtired
@markusd, good point.

@mojofat, I dont know if you know this but private capital is what creates wealth and jobs. Every government "job" is funded by money taken from the private sector. Private sector businesses expect a return on their investment. By creating wealth they will have more capital to expand and therefore hire more people. So you can conclude that for each government job, the private sector must surrender more than one job. I agree with you that the US (and most of the rest of the world) has been spending at an unsustainable rate, but advocating that wealth killers instead of wealth producers manage capital will kill any economy. Look at the standard of living in the USSR compared to the West, despite the fact that the USSR was sitting on virtually every natural resource known to man.

"You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

Adrian Rogers, 1931
00:12 September 11, 2010 by Luke35711
@americanska >in sweden you have the swedish culture - then eveyrone else >that doesn't fit in.

Brilliant! Spot on!


As for duty to fit in, that's exactly what I thought. Lived in two foreign countries previously, and never had trouble to fit in. Because normally, fitting in means respecting the law, working hard, playing by the rules, learning to understand the culture. But in Sweden, there is something else. There is a curious anti-individual anti-intellectual nationalistic attitude that is neither written down, nor logical, nor internally consistent, nor understood in the same way by the elites and common folk.

Sweden is still an agrarian tribal and collectivist society, that was deeply scarred by brutal industrialization, a long period of one-party rule, and loss of Christian faith. Sure the economy is strong and the place is well organised, but there is also a lot of hidden tensions, pent up anger, a sense of cultural poverty, and technocratic brutality.

For commercial reasons, there is an unwritten agreement on presenting a unified happy smiley image to the outside world - but this is just a superficial image.
11:36 September 11, 2010 by PetraM
Taxing the wealthy here in the States would not go to people who do not work. It would go to pay for healthcare, education, and childcare that is bankrupting the hard working middle and working class. People may not have the brains to get beyond a minimum wage job but that doesn't mean they don't work hard. I went to college to avoid menial work that is besides low paying is hard.

Many investments here in the States are made by pension funds, not the independently wealthy. If the middle class had more money they would invest in the stock market and mutual funds too. My family is only middle class, none of us worth over a million or making more than $100,000/year, but we have made investments.
15:21 September 12, 2010 by rob robertson
Now I sure, the editor of the online "Local", is a aspiring cartoon writer. I am free and looking for work.
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