ESCAPE index in brief

Our new ESCAPE index provides a holistic measure of how a country is performing on five key dimensions. It tracks how shifts in global economic power mean some countries previously regarded as emerging markets are escaping, or close to escaping, from the middle-income trap and graduating to become full members of the advanced economy club.

Key findings include:

1 Northern Europe occupies four of the five top places in the 2012 index rankings, led by Sweden

2 Saudi Arabia has risen strongly since 2000, graduating into the advanced economy club

3 Central and Eastern European has been the fastest rising region of the world since 2000

4 China has edged past the US, UK and France in the latest rankings

5 Brazil, India and the 'MINT' countries have yet to crack the top 30, despite progress since 2000

6 Emerging markets have progressed strongly on economic and technological measures, but much less so on social and political indicators.


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Our new ESCAPE index provides a holistic measure of how a country is performing on five key dimensions: economic growth and stability; social progress and cohesion; communications technology; political, legal and regulatory institutions; and environmental sustainability.

The ESCAPE index captures progress between 2000 and 2012 for 42 of the largest economies in the world from emerging markets in sub-Saharan Africa to high income countries like the US, UK, Germany and Japan. In total, it covers around 85% of the world economy.

Sweden tops our index in 2012, up from 3rd place in 2000. Switzerland, Singapore, Netherlands and Finland complete the top 5 for 2012, and all of these countries were also highly placed in 2000.

Below this top layer of countries, however, there have been some bigger movers.

Countries rising up our Escape index rankings between 2000 and 2012 include Australia, Saudi Arabia, China, Chile, Poland, Romania and Russia. Some of the top ranking emerging economies are now ahead of the old advanced economies.

This is reflected in results for the US and the UK, both of which have fallen back since 2007 having earlier made good progress. But the most dramatic falls have been in Southern European crisis countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece.

However, our results only go up to 2012, so they will not have picked up recent signs of stabilisation in some of these Eurozone economies, as well as the strengthening recovery seen in the UK during 2013.

Looking beneath the surface of the results, we can see that emerging markets made particular progress on the technological front. They have rapidly adopted the internet and mobile phones, sometimes leapfrogging the old school technologies of more mature economies.

Emerging markets also made progress on economic and environmental indicators, but in general they have made much less progress since 2000 in terms of social and political institutions. Filling out these gaps in their profile will be important if they are to sustain their progress and become fully fledged members of the advanced economy club.

Our index should be useful for businesses seeking to benchmark different markets against a broader range of criteria than just standard economic measures like GDP growth and inflation.

Of course, this can only be a starting point for location and investment decisions, but we hope the more detailed information on our website will be useful. If you find that interesting, we would be happy to discuss further with you how we can help in taking the analysis to the next stage.

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