Dismal jobless rates, plummeting stock prices, and the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon have many Americans questioning the worldwide competitiveness of the United States. The current World Bank’s Economy Rankings, based on the Ease of Doing Business Index, may help put things into a global perspective.
In terms of Ease of Doing Business, the report lists the Unites States as the 4th best country in the world. The same report ranks the United States 13th best for Starting a Business. According to the World Bank, “A high ranking on the ease of doing business index means the regulatory environment is more conducive to the starting and operation of a local firm.”
The top spot on the list for Ease of Doing Business is held by Singapore. Hong Kong is second, and New Zealand third.
There is a call to change regulation from both liberals and conservatives in the country. This call to change is based on the seemingly universal perception that the current regulatory environment in the United States hinders business growth and development. The type of change in regulation is disputed, of course, but all sides seem to agree that some kind of change is needed. The United States’ high rankings on this report suggests that perhaps the regulatory environment is not the problem.
The debate that has been taking shape in the United States, and worldwide, may actually be an argument about different issues. Herman Cain has raised this point in recent GOP Presidential Candidate Debates. Cain states that people are comparing “apples to oranges”. This may not be so far from the truth. People perceive many different things when the speak about the state of the economy and the regulatory climate that relates to it.
Empirical data about the economy of a country differs from the quality of life one experiences living in a country. Quality of life is about a person’s emotional state and personal life and not about statistical rankings or economic data. A person could live in the highest ranking country in the world in terms of economic rankings and still have a very bad quality of life because of unfortunate personal circumstances. These circumstances could include loneliness, unemployment, and poor health, among other things. The problem is that quality of life is subjective and not easily translated into hard facts or statistics.
It seems that dissatisfaction with quality of life issues may actually be dominating these debates. Can changes in the regulatory framework have an affect on the perception that one has about their own quality life? One thing is for certain, economic rankings and statistics are not telling the whole story.
Nickolaos Petros Kangelaris, “Economic Rankings Are Not Telling the Whole Story,” Associated Content by Yahoo!.