THE LEGATUM PROSPERITY INDEX™ 2016

Bringing Prosperity to Life

Belarus

Ranked 98th of 149

At a glance

Ranks

98 th on the Legatum
Prosperity Index™

50th
92nd
135th
41st
89th
57th
134th
121st
102nd

SUB-INDEX RANKINGS

In the Prosperity Sub-Index rankings, Belarus performs best on Education and Economic Quality and scores lowest on the Governance sub-index.

Visit our Rankings table to see how Belarus 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.

Belarus continues to have significant prosperity deficit which is unlikely to improve in the short-term given its authoritarian political and rigid economic institutions.

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

Belarus is the last European country with a strict state-run economy, suffering from low competitiveness and inefficient state-owned enterprises. It ranks 92th in the Business Environment sub-index, having moved up 25 ranks over the past decade. This reflects efforts made to boost competitiveness, improve infrastructure and introduce modest privatisation. Nevertheless, despite these reforms progress has stalled over the past several years and there continues to be lack of foreign investment given concerns about the centrally-planned economy, weak infrastructure, and poor governance. Belarus scores 2nd lowest on logistics performance in the region. It is vital that both SOEs and private enterprises in Belarus become more efficient and competitive: hiring/firing practices remain extremely inflexible and whilst firms are, in principle, allowed to determine wages, the government still holds the power to influence this. On a positive note, electricity has gotten cheaper over the past decade and it is easier to get credit.

The biggest area of concern comes in the Governance sub-index, where Belarus ranks 135th and it has consistently ranked in the global bottom 15 for Governance over the past decade. Belarus has been described by Western journalists as ‘Europe’s last dictatorship’ because of the authoritarian government run by President Lukashenko since 1994. He has won the past five presidential elections, most recently in October 2015: no serious opposition candidate was allowed to stand. He has never polled below 75% in elections and Belarus has been barred from the Council of Europe since 1997 because of consistent undemocratic voting and voting irregularities. It has the lowest level of political rights and government effectiveness in the region, seriously underperforming to its regional peers.

Governance in Belarus compared to the global and OECD averages.
Belarus has ranked in the global bottom 15 for Governance over the past decade.

Belarus does similarly poorly in the Personal Freedom sub-index, where it ranks 134th: it has, in fact, moved down three ranks since 2007. Government restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and religion remain in place with Belarus scoring the lowest in the world when it comes to press freedom. Whilst there is some independent media in Minsk, it is severely limited by the intimidation of journalists and the near state monopoly over distribution methods. Opposition protests in the capital following the 2010 elections were broken up by force, with 600 arrests. It is the only country in the region, which still adheres to the death penalty. Because of its human rights abuses, Belarus is subject to sanctions by both the US and the EU.

In the September 2016 parliamentary elections, the opposition made a rare gain, winning one seat in parliament. Another independent candidate with ties to the opposition won a further seat. It was easier for opposition parties to participate in this election following Western calls for increased transparency. Despite being only a minimal step, it is a positive sign. Belarus’ traditionally close relations with Russia have cooled since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2004 and President Lukashenko has since adopted a more conciliatory tone towards the West. Following his election in October 2015, he released all remaining political prisoners. Whether this shift will have a long-term positive effect on Belarus’ performance in the Governance and Personal Freedom sub-indices remains to be seen.


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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.