How tiny countries top social and economic league tables (and win at football, too)

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

Ms Kolinda GRABAR-KITAROVIC, President of Croatia. Shoot location: Bruxelles – BELGIUM Shoot date: 13/06/2018 Copyright: European Union

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Rosamond Hutt, Formative Content

Sporting history is full of stories of underdogs who defy the odds to triumph over bigger teams. Leicester City’s fairytale rise from the bottom of the United Kingdom’s Premier League in 2015 to the top in 2016 is one memorable example, while both Denmark and Greece have triumphed at the UEFA European Championships.

Now Croatia, a nation with a population of just 4.2 million, has secured a place in the World Cup finals for the first time.

And they’re not the only tiny country to do well in the tournament. Uruguay – population, 3.4 million – made it to this year’s quarter-finals slaying mighty Brazil with a population of 207 million.

Of course, being a large nation is certainly not an essential ingredient for success in football. If that were the case, China, India and the United States would have at least qualified for the World Cup group stages.

Competitiveness off the pitch

But what about success off the pitch? Small countries often appear at the top of rankings for wealth (Qatar), innovativeness (South Korea and Sweden), happiness (Finland) and gender parity (Iceland).

And when it comes to competitiveness, they’re also demonstrating that they can punch well above their weight and leave larger economies by the wayside.

Switzerland, with 8.5 million people, is in pole position on the World Economic Forum’s 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Index, while Singapore, a city-state with a population similar to Minnesota’s at 5.5 million, is third after the US.

Image: World Economic Forum

In the case of Switzerland, which tops the overall ranking for the sixth year in a row and scores well on nearly every pillar of competitiveness, it’s down to a resilient economy, strong labour markets and innovative and sophisticated businesses.

Image: World Economic Forum

Singapore, which slipped one place this year to third, mainly on account of rising government debt, put in a strong performance across the board, according to the report. Its transport infrastructure, product and labour markets, and financial sector are all highly efficient.

If population size doesn’t seem to be a key factor – on or off the pitch – then what is it exactly that makes a small country competitive at the global level?

Agility, speed and the ability to change direction quickly are often thought to be key factors when thinking about the merits of smaller countries, organizations and even players.

But how bigger countries can replicate the success of smaller ones is a question that will continue to trouble both economists and football fans for some time to come.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Three ways batteries could power change in the world

China repels EU allegations of export subsidies

European Vocational Skills Week: ‘VET for Green and Digital Transitions’

Is our brave new world about to burst?

The economic cost of anti-vaccination movements in Italy

Focus on EU’s external action and building our stronger inner core: von der Leyen at the Special European Council

The European Sting @ European Business Summit 2014 – the preview

War in Syria: ‘Carnage’, flouting of rights and international law, must stop: Guterres

Afghanistan: Bring ‘architects’ of latest ‘appalling’ suicide bombing to justice, says deputy UN mission chief

Employment and Social Developments in Europe: 2019 review highlights that tackling climate change can be a driver for growth and jobs

A Sting Exclusive: “The Digital Economy and Industry are no longer opposing terms”, Commissioner Oettinger underlines live from European Business Summit 2015

Primary Health Care: in a world of specializations

Plastic Oceans: MEPs back EU ban on throwaway plastics by 2021

Changing healthcare systems with simple technological solutions

Banning out-of-hours work emails could make some employees more stressed, research finds

The European giant tourism sector in constant growth

European Youth Event 2016 – bridge between youth and policy makers

How emerging markets will shape Africa in 2020

Implementation of tax transparency initiative delivering concrete and impressive results

Wednesday’s Daily Brief: updates from the Near East and Libya, Ebola in DR Congo, World War remembrance

This is why people live, work and stay in a growing city

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Commitments Made to Reduce Black Carbon, Methane and HFCs

Measles cases nearly doubled in a year, UN health agency projects

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Climate crisis and food risks, fresh violence threat for millions of Syrians, calls for calm in Kashmir

Technology can hinder good mental health at work. Here’s how it can help

Lagarde discusses the European Central Bank’s policy revamp with MEPs

The world has made spectacular progress in every measure of well-being. So why does almost no one know about it?

Eurozone: Subdued inflation can lead to more recession

UN chief ‘following very closely’ reports of chemical weapons use in Syria’s Aleppo

Aluminium can help to build the circular economy. Here’s how

Medical students as the critical link to address climate change

Future Forces Forum: Prague will be hosting the most important project in the field of Defence and Security

EU-India summit: Will the EU manage to sign a free trade agreement with India before Britain?

EP President at the European Youth Event: “Your ideas are key in shaping EU’s future”

This tool shows you which cities will flood as ice sheets melt

Students in Milan are moving in with the elderly to fight loneliness and save money

‘Everything is still to be agreed’: informal talks between Parliament and Council on Rule of law conditionality continue

Who should be responsible for protecting our personal data?

The fatal consequences of troika’s blind austerity policy

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antibiotics

Counting spillovers from the fast track EU-US free trade agreement

How data can empower patients to personalize and improve their cancer treatment

Mass-graves found of at least 535 killed during ‘organized and planned’ inter-communal attacks in western DR Congo

Coronavirus: here’s what you need to know about face masks

Future EU-UK Partnership: European Commission takes first step to launch negotiations with the United Kingdom

Reform of road use charges to spur cleaner transport and ensure fairness

How a possible EU budget deficit affects the migration crisis

5 ways to net a sustainable future for aquaculture

How public private partnerships must evolve to create social impact

Brexit: European Council adopts decision to extend the period under Article 50

A male gynecologist in Iraq: red line violated

A Sting Exclusive: the EU referendum is about fighting for an outward-looking Britain

Terrorism diverts resources from ‘much-needed’ development to ‘costly’ security, warns UN envoy for Central Africa

New UN rights report paints bleak picture in eastern DR Congo

Why enterprise risk management is the future for banks

FROM THE FIELD: Weeding out Mexico’s unwanted beach invader

Mobile technology in medicine: a step to upgrade and the small steps forward

Medical education during COVID-19 pandemic

US prosecutors now target Volkswagen’s top management, upsetting Germany

Tobacco is harming the planet, not just our health, says new study

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s