Elite Quality Index 2023 sees new global leader – Singapore slips to second place

The fourth edition of the Elite Quality Index measuring sustainable value creation by global elites in 151 countries has been published

Singapore, 28 April 2023 (Friday) – The fourth annual Elite Quality Index 2023 (EQx) report with an expanded set of 134 indicators (up from 120 indicators in 2022) examines the roles of elites and whether they create or extract value from their nations. In a year characterised by an unprecedented rise in inflation, the implementation of massive COVID-19 fiscal support packages and war in Europe, EQx provides a revealing picture of the state of world affairs.

The Index is based on a framework consisting of four conceptual areas: Economic Power, Economic Value, Political Power and Political Value, to determine the quality of the elites in any given country. Elites are categorised as very high-quality elites (rank 1 to 10), high quality elites (rank 11 to 25), quality elites (rank 26 to 75), middle quality elites (rank 76 to 125) and lagging elites (rank below 125).

By and large, elites and their businesses are essential for value creation and economic growth. The flip side to value creation is value extraction, which is when elite business models extract value away from the general populations that they serve.

Comparative country scores and global ranks provide insight into the future of societies. The EQx is designed to be a resource for business and political leaders to understand how their actions affect society at large.

The research, led by University of St.Gallen (HSG) along with international academic partners like Singapore Management University (SMU) and the St.Gallen-based Foundation for Value Creation, provides unique insight into value creation by categorising nations by the quality of their elites. EQx2023 lead-authors and editors Dr. Tomas Casas and Dr. Guido Cozzi would like to highlight the following results: 

Change at the top – Singapore down to number two spot
Switzerland beat out Singapore for the first time in the history of the index however the two nations continue to lead in elite quality as they have done for the past four years. Japan (rank # 4, up 14 places) and Germany (rank # 8, up 3 places) have made impressive advances. The same is true of India (rank # 59, up 38 places), Brazil (rank # 69, up 12 places) and South Africa (rank # 83, up 16 places). These achievements stand in stark contrast to fellow BRICS nation Russia (rank # 103, down 36 places).

The US (rank # 21, down 6 positions) and China (rank # 22, up 5 positions) are now running neck to neck. In times of the building geo-political rivalry between the two powers, this becomes a matter of international interest as the sustainable value creation of elites is a foundation for future national strength and competitiveness.

It was not a good year for other Anglo-Saxon nations with the UK at rank # 9 dropping one place and Australia at rank # 7 down 4 places; the notable exception is New Zealand at #3, up 11 places.

Volatility accompanies this year’s list

A critical view is that elite value extraction is on the rise around world. The current problems with the financial sector in Switzerland (rank # 1) or the increasing polarisation now evident in Israel (rank # 5) point to problems in the elite systems of even the best performers. Given elite quality impact on economic and human development, a generalised decline ought to be a matter of global concern and a subject for analysis by multilateral organizations such as the World Bank and debated at global meetings such as those of the World Economic Forum.

Singapore down to #2 despite top-ranking Political and Economic Value
Singapore ranks second in elite Value Creation among all 151 countries covered in the EQx global index. Although Singapore no longer tops the EQx ranking, as it did in the previous three years, it continues to produce top Political and Economic Value for its citizens, suggesting that its state capitalist model has successfully shaped Value Creations by its very high-quality elites.

In EQx 2023, Singapore elites have a high degree of political and economic Power, although this is markedly lower than in the previous year. Nevertheless, this still suggests that elites in Singapore have considerable control and coordination and, thus, potential for value extraction. Singapore performs exceptionally in the areas of control of corruption, government responsiveness to change, regulatory enforcement, and regulatory quality. Singapore continues to dominate in its excellent performance in political and economic Value, performing excellently in top PISA scores, health efficiency, food security, trade freedom, and self-made billionaires.

Key to Singapore’s successful elite Value Creation is the mediating role of the government: governance matters. Much of this Value Creation has been the result of government policies that create growth and social stability through economic openness and transparency, while providing for generous social and communitarian contributions. For more details on Singapore’s ranking, please refer to the Annex for Singapore’s scorecard.

Interactive EQx website launched

With the release of EQx2023, the University of St.Gallen launches an interactive website of the EQx. Guido Cozzi remarks that “with this tool students, journalists and the general public across the world can better understand the role that elites play in our given societies, the origins of institutional quality and, more importantly, with the data at their fingertips, develop ideas and policies for inclusive growth.”

The Elite Quality Index (EQx2023) can be found here and at www.elitequality.org, and you can follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.