Comparing National Competitive Performance: An Economic Analysis of World Economic Forum's Competitiveness Index

Date: Jan, 2001
ODID Working Paper No. 61
Author(s): Sanjaya Lall (QEH)

Developing country policy makers worry about national competitiveness and closely watch indices ranking international competitive performance. This paper analyzes from the development economics perspective if competitiveness is a legitimate policy concern, and if the leading indices deserve the attention they get. It assesses the best known index, from the World Economic Forum, and finds grave deficiencies. The WEF definitions are too broad, the approach biased, the methodology flawed and inconsistent, and many measures vague, redundant or wrongly calculated. It concludes that competitiveness indices have weak theoretical and empirical foundations and may be misleading for analytical and policy purposes.

ODID Author(s)