Switzerland: The most stable place on earth

A new report rates 136 countries on their preparedness to cope with shocks of all kinds: financial, political and natural. Switzerland and Sweden top the list, while Somalia is the least well prepared.

Shocks can come in many different ways. Recently wars, natural disasters, massive migration and financial upheavals have shaken the globe. A new report by consultant KPMG – the Change Readiness Index – tries to combine all of these factors and takes a holistic look at how well countries’ governments, businesses and societies are prepared for such events and long-term trends like climate change.

The results of this study were released on Wednesday and Switzerland tops the list as the country best prepared to manage and respond to such unexpected events, followed by Sweden in second place. Of the top-ten countries, seven are in Europe and all are high-income countries.

Germany was rated 9th while the United States managed 12th place. Armenia, which was considered for the first time, ended up in 34th position.

According to the survey the bottom-ten countries “are either in or have recently emerged from conflict.” Of the 127 countries surveyed in both 2015 and 2017, the biggest movers were Bhutan which moved up 35 places and El Salvador which fell 31 spots.

We are all getting older.

The biennial review which was conceived as a response to the 2010 Haitian earthquake was a direct reaction to the need to measure countries’ ability to respond to sudden change in a time when no adequate tools existed.

The survey, which was first published in 2012, now covers around 97 percent of the world’s population and 98 percent of its GPD. It looks at everything from labor markets, the financial sector and public administration to security, land rights, gender equality and demographics.

The report pointed out two areas of concern in the near future: an ageing population and migration.

As the global population ages new ideas will need to be developed to deal with such changes. Some countries are being impacted more than others like Japan, which has one of the oldest societies in the world, and India, which it yet to see its population peak. As ever-more workers enter the market, they will need to work longer and be better integrated into the workforce.

Rich countries will also need to keep coping with large-scale migration. Economic and education opportunities along with social safety nets are tempting especially compared to poorer countries. Surprisingly the study showed no direct link between national income and a country’s ability to deal with new arrivals.

Bob Collins