One of the most typical Slovenian traits? Competitiveness. Slovenians like to compete - and to win. Clear proof of this are the extraordinary results of the young nation’s sport champions: Slovenia is for example among the three top Olympic medals winning nations on a per capita basis. More proof is the unusual level of attention that the major competitiveness reports get in Slovenia’s mass media. If the nation ranks below its formerly held position in one of these reports it is considered to be disastrous: the mass media becomes overflown with various commentators, analysts and even serious economists publicly discussing what is going on.
And what is going on? In truth, not much. In a nutshell: Slovenia remains one of the most prosperous nations on the globe. It has advanced economy and its citizens enjoy an extremely high standard of living. It has one of the most innovative and creative environments, high R&D investments, and highly skilled people. And it is a global leader when it comes to the preservation of the environment. The latest Legatum Prosperity report published in late 2016 puts Slovenia in first place “in terms of quality of natural environment and preservation efforts”. The Legatum Prosperity report is published by a London based independent Legatum Institute. Slovenia also performs particularly well in terms of the Personal Freedom and Social Capital sub-indices, ranked 20th and 25th respectively. According to this March’s United Nations report on achieving sustainable development goals Slovenia is in 17th place.
The latest Human Development Report, also published by the United Nations in late March, puts Slovenia in 25th place among 188 nations. That is just below Austria and Finland and ahead of Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, and all other nations in Central and Eastern Europe. The UN’s index combines economic figures with data reflecting standards of living, like schooling or health. Interestingly enough, according to UN data Slovenia has the second lowest Gini coefficient among all the nations presented in the report: it reflects extremely low level of income inequality.
Last year Slovenia’s competitiveness had also improved as shown by the two leading global studies. IMD’s report puts Slovenia on 43rd place - six places ahead of its 2015 ranking. In the IMD’s sub ranking of productivity and efficiency Slovenia jumped 14 places ahead. World Economic Forum’s competitiveness report ranks Slovenia in 56th place - three places above the 2015 position. WEF puts Slovenia in 33rd place on innovation and in solid 35th place on technological readiness. It is in line with the analyses focusing on innovation or creativity environments which usually rank Slovenia very favorably. According to the Innovation Union Scoreboard, for example, Slovenia is the fourth fastest growing country. WEF puts Slovenia in very high 16th place on health and primary education. In last period WEF upgraded its concept and complements competitiveness with a new approach that also reflects social inclusion. In its latest edition of Inclusive Growth and Development Report published in January Slovenia is placed in 20th position - that is just ahead of the UK, Estonia, USA and Japan.
And the weaknesses? According to WEF three factors hamper Slovenia’s competitiveness: the state of its financial market, labor market efficiency and the general size of its market. While Slovenia cannot do much about the size of its market it can well improve the first two. The World Bank’s Doing Business Report clearly shows that this is doable. Doing Business’ analysis shows the ease of doing business and the level of administrative and other obstacles faced by enterprises in a county. In the latest Doing Business Report Slovenia ranks in 30th position. That is far ahead of the 63rd position ten years ago.