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2021 World Competitiveness Ranking: Europe dominates, China rises, and the US remains stable

Western European countries lead in the 2021 rankings, reflecting the resilience of economies in the face of the global COVID-19 health crisis.

Switzerland has come top for the first time in the 33-year history of IMD’s World Competitiveness Ranking, in a year that reflected the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic competitiveness.

Sweden came second (up from 6th last year) with Denmark in third spot (2nd in 2020) in a shakeup that saw European economies weather the health crisis better than most other regions. Completing the top five were the Netherlands (also 4th last year) followed by Singapore. Singapore took a tumble from the number one spot it had held for the previous two years.

The IMD World Competitiveness Ranking ranks 64 economies and assesses the extent to which a country promotes the prosperity of its people by measuring economic well-being through hard data and survey responses from executives. This year the rankings expose the economic impact of the pandemic across the globe. The report finds that qualities such as investment in innovation, digitalization, welfare benefits and leadership resulting in social cohesion have helped economies better weather the crisis, allowing them to rank higher in competitiveness.

One major trend revealed in this year’s results is that countries that had built themselves a certain economic buffer prior to the pandemic fared better, and that this was in spite of their infection levels.

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