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Benchmarking Slovenia
Photo: STO, Janez Mencinger

We checked where Slovenia is placed in the most important country rankings. Its key comparative advantages are green nature, safety, and complex economy.

Firstly prosperity. GDP is still the key element for the assessment of a nation's wealth and economic performance. Globally, Slovenia is in 34th place with 32,214 US dollars of GDP per capita, a result that puts Slovenia ahead of all other countries in the region. The interesting thing is the country’s solid and robust growth. Not so long-ago Slovenia’s GDP per capita was comparable to Greece and Portugal. Now, Slovenia has surpassed Spain and is close to Italy which has a GDP per capita of 36,812 US dollars. The target however remains the EU average (39,940): still quite far off, yet not unattainable.

According to more complex measures of prosperity which consider multiple dimensions and are based on composite indices, Slovenia fares even better. The latest edition of Legatum Prosperity Index puts Slovenia in 27th place. The United Nation’s Human Development Index, perhaps the most widely used alternative to GDP, puts Slovenia in 23rd place, ahead of Austria. The inequality adjusted version of the index shows an even more favourable picture: Slovenia ranks 9th. Slovenia is one of the most egalitarian places on the planet: only two nations have a lower Gini coefficient measuring income inequality. The individual wealth of Slovenians is solid: Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Databook puts Slovenia in 29th place according to this criterion. And how much does the nation contribute to the well-being of others? According to the latest edition of Good Country Index, which reflects contirbutions to the human race, Slovenia ranks 17th.

A nation’s competitiveness is somewhat in line with GDP per capita. In the latest IMD Competitiveness Report Slovenia ranks 38th. The latest Economic Freedom Index and World Bank’s Doing Business ranking both put Slovenia in 37th place. All these measures to some extent reflect the nation’s main weakness: a relatively low efficiency of public administration which still retains some Habsburg-era red tape. Where Slovenia stands out is the openness and the complexity of the nation’s economy. According to Harvard Growth Lab’s Atlas of Economic Complexity, Slovenia ranks 11th, ahead of the USA in 12th place. This aspect is also one of the main strengths in the IMD’s report, which puts Slovenia in 11th place for the level of its international trade. Slovenia is the world’s 15th largest exporter of pharmaceutical products. It is one of the few indicators where the 2-million nation stands out absolutely and not only in per-capita terms. Moreover, according to the latest data, it also enjoys the fastest growth in pharma exports among the world’s nations (World Top Exports webpage, 2019 – 2020 data).

The nation also enjoys a similar ranking in the WIPO Global Innovation Index (33rd). Some indicators included in WIPO’s report reveal a few significant strengths. For example, only two nations currently produce more scientific and tech articles (calculated per GDP/PPP billion dollars). Slovenian students also regularly fare well in international comparisons: the OECD’s PISA ranking puts them in 11th place in math and reading.

The nation’s main strengths are still peace and nature. Slovenia positions itself as a “green” country and ranks 7th in the latest Environmental Performance Index. The Legatum Institute assesses Slovenia’s “eco” performance even higher. According to the Natural Environment indicators included in the Legatum Prosperity Index, Slovenia ranks 4th and is the world leader in nature preservation efforts. The same index puts Slovenia in 14th place regarding safety and security, with low crime rates and a virtually nonexistent threat of terrorism. The Global Peace Index made of 23 indicators is considered to be the main benchmark for the safety of nations and puts Slovenia in an even higher 7th place.

This peacefulness can indirectly be seen reflected in another, less conventional comparison. The latest Passport Report puts Slovenia in sixth place, meaning that travel with a passport from only five other countries is more hassle-free. Not exactly a standard metric – yet a clear indicator of the growing international reputation of the still young nation.

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