Republic ‘most prosperous in a decade’ but health system lags
State ranked 10th in Prosperity Index as gap widens between countries at top and bottom
The report ranked the Republic 10th globally and eighth in western Europe, which was its best performance since 2008
Levels of personal freedom and security in the Republic of Ireland have helped it achieve its best performance in a decade in a major global study of prosperity, but it performed poorly on the quality of its health system, as well as access to credit.
Covering 149 nations, the Prosperity Index, which is compiled by the London-based think-tank the Legatum Institute, seeks to provide insight into why some states have seen their prosperity rise and why others have seen it fall.
This year’s report, published on Wednesday, ranked the Republic 10th globally and eighth in western Europe, which was its best performance since 2008.
Its lowest ranking of 15th came in 2013 when the economic crisis was in full swing.
The report draws its conclusions by examining nine pillars. On “economic quality” the Republic was ranked 10th in the world and eighth in western Europe. On “business environment”, it was ranked 16th in the world and 10th in western Europe.
For “social capital”, it was seventh in the world and fourth in western Europe. On “governance”, it was ranked 14th in the world and 11th in western Europe.
It fared well on “personal freedom”, where it was fifth in the world and third in western Europe. Within this pillar, it performed well on basic legal rights, individual freedoms and social tolerance .
It also performed strongly on “safety and security”, where it was ranked fifth in the world and second in western Europe. In terms of education, it was sixth in the world and fifth in western Europe.
However, it fared poorly in terms of “health”, where it was 27th in the world and 16th in western Europe. On “natural environment”, it was ranked 14th in the world and 11th in western Europe.
In terms of sub categories, the State’s best performances were in “ease of trade”; “quality of education”; and “individual freedoms” where it was ranked fourth in the world for each. It was ranked fifth for “standard of living”.
Its worst performances were in “labour force engagement” where it ranked 79th; “health system quality” where it ranked 53rd; “access to credit” where it ranked 51st; and “labour market flexibility” where it ranked 40th.
More broadly, the report found that global prosperity is at its highest level in the 12-year history of the index, with more people living prosperous lives than ever before.
However, the gap between countries with the highest and lowest prosperity scores is now 10 per cent wider than it was in 2013. While the top 20 rising countries showed steady improvements in prosperity, the 20 top fallers often fell sharply and suddenly.
The report said safety and security was “the foundation of successful nation-building and is the essential precondition of prosperity”.
However, safety and security “continues to decline”, with the most significant deteriorations found in the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, driven by war, terrorism, oppressive regimes, and the declining availability of food and shelter.
“Prosperity is dependent on good leadership to identify and pursue domestic priorities, mobilising support for a clear agenda for development,” the report noted.