THE LEGATUM PROSPERITY INDEX™ 2016

Bringing Prosperity to Life

Bahrain

Ranked 67th of 149

At a glance

Ranks

67 th on the Legatum
Prosperity Index™

31st
46th
91st
67th
29th
51st
127th
56th
119th

SUB-INDEX RANKINGS

In the Prosperity Sub-Index rankings, Bahrain performs best on Health and Economic Quality and scores lowest on the Personal Freedom sub-index.

Visit our Rankings table to see how Bahrain compares to other countries.

Prosperity Gap

The ‘Prosperity Gap’ takes a country's GDP and uses it as the yardstick to measure a nation's expected Prosperity Index ranking.

Like its peers in the Gulf, Bahrain has a considerable prosperity deficit, delivering far less prosperity despite its great wealth and the potential that comes with it. Its prosperity deficit is among the 15 highest in the world and its performance is particularly hindered by a significant deficit in Personal Freedom. However, it is close to eliminating its deficit in Economic Quality.

Note:
In the chart above, each dot represents a country. The curve shows the general tendency with which prosperity increases as GDP per capita increases. If a country falls below the curve, then we can say that compared to all other countries, it is under-delivering prosperity for its citizens. Likewise, if a country rises above the curve, then we can say that it is over-delivering prosperity for its citizens. Learn more about the Prosperity Gap here.

Alternatively, have a look at the Prosperity Gap view on our Rankings table for a full list of countries and to see how each of them are performing on the various sub-indices.

Commentary

Bahrain’s biggest improvement comes in Economic Quality: it moved up 15 ranks to 31st over the past decade. While Bahrain remains heavily dependent on the oil industry, its economy has diversified more than its regional peers. Its capital, Manama, has become a major financial centre in the region which continues to grow quickly. There has also been considerable effort to boost tourism from building resorts to promoting the F1 Grand Prix Circuit. The Bahraini economy also benefits from a lower prevalence of trade barriers than average for the Gulf region and has the highest export quality score in the region. 75% of those polled are satisfied with living standards, though only 29% are satisfied with current incomes, though the subjectivity of this question should be noted. Bahrain also enjoys a low unemployment rate. Unsurprisingly, there is a very low female participation rate of 40.5%.

Overall prosperity declines in Bahrain, but Economic Quality increases over the past decade.
Overall prosperity declines in Bahrain, but Economic Quality increases over the past decade.

Health is Bahrain’s best performing sub-index: it ranks 29th globally, moving up four ranks since 2007. Bahrain provides universal healthcare which is free for Bahraini citizens and heavily subsidized for non-Bahrainis. Mortality rates have decreased, tuberculosis rates have gone down, while life expectancy has risen by roughly a year to 76.8 years. Obesity, however, remains an issue in Bahrain, as it does in much of the region. Obesity has been on the rise for the past decade and now affects 35.1% of the population, the fourth highest rate in the world.

Bahrain’s delivery of prosperity is particularly constrained by poor and declining performances in Governance, Personal Freedom, and Safety & Security. Following the anti-government protests in 2011 inspired by the Arab Spring, the resulting crackdown has had a noticeable effect on these sub-indices.

Unlike Qatar, Saudi, and the UAE, Bahrain has declined in in Governance over the same time period. It also represents the biggest change for Bahrain: it moved down 30 ranks to 91st over the last ten years, moving down 21 ranks after 2011 alone. While there was a minor political opening in the early 2000s, the result of a falling oil price, this has been reversed. Despite being a constitutional monarchy with parliamentary elections (though these are only for parliament’s lower house and the King retains the right to dissolve it entirely,) Bahrain has become even more autocratic since 2011. Political rights have declined and there has been a weakening in Bahrain’s rule of law.

Related is Bahrain’s declining performance in Personal Freedom: it has moved down six ranks to 127th, placing Bahrain in the global bottom 25 of this sub-index. Civil liberties have been further eroded and there has been a serious crackdown on freedom of the press, meaning the country is now ranked as having the fourth least free press in the world. Journalists can face up to five years in prison for ‘undermining religion and the government.’

Safety & Security is another sub-index in which Bahrain sees a sharp drop: it moved down 23 ranks to 51st over the past decade. Unsurprisingly, political terror increased after 2011. Many protestors were killed during the unrest itself. While Bahrain has historically been a very safe nation, there was a 28% drop in people feeling safe walking alone at night following 2010.


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Data

How to read this graph:
When comparing multiple countries on a spider chart, data points that appear
further away from the center represent a better performance to the points that are closer to the center.