What Is Competitiveness?

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In the last post, I challenged the notion that test score for elementary and secondary students are related to the U. S. ability to compete in the global economy. In this one, I want to examine what does contribute to competitiveness. First, though, we have to take a look at the concept of competitiveness. Many people take it as a zero-sum game: If you win, I lose. Not so. The computer chip was invented in the U.S. Many other nations benefited. If some young medical student in Nigeria invents a cure for AIDS, the world, not just Nigeria, will win.

The World Economic Forum defines competitiveness as the “set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country.” A competitive country is one that increases the prosperity of its own people. The WEF uses a set of 12 “pillars of competitiveness” to evaluate a nation. It is a capitalist-oriented organization, but the socialist countries of Scandinavia get high ranks. Overall, the United States ranks #1. The numbers in parentheses below are the U. S. ranks, out of 131 ranked nations for each pillar.

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