THE LEGATUM PROSPERITY INDEX™ 2016

Bringing Prosperity to Life

Kazakhstan

Ranked 82nd of 149

At a glance

Ranks

82 nd on the Legatum
Prosperity Index™

48th
53rd
105th
35th
75th
65th
122nd
109th
97th

SUB-INDEX RANKINGS

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

Visit our Rankings table to see how Kazakhstan 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.

Kazakhstan has a large prosperity deficit despite generating 60% of the region’s GDP and having vast mineral resources. This is a significant under-achievement compared to its regional peers Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan who, despite being almost ten times poorer, have similar prosperity rankings to Kazakhstan, making them strong over-deliverers of prosperity compared to their wealth.

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

For a country that has seen consistent economic growth since 2000, Kazakhstan has seen prosperity rise over the last decade as that economic wealth has slowly been transformed into better lives for Kazakhs. While prosperity still trails the country’s wealth–the nation carries a stubborn prosperity deficit–Kazakhstan has made significant improvements in some areas of the Index.

Over the last ten years, wealth creation and poverty alleviation has helped close a sizeable deficit in the Economic Quality sub-index, pushing Kazakhstan up the ranks from 64th to rank 48th. Alongside falling poverty rates, falling unemployment and a more open economy have helped drive this improvement. Similar improvement has also been made in the Business Environment sub-index where Kazakhstan has risen from 70th to 53rd since 2007. Improved logistics and telecommunications infrastructure alongside better access to finance for businesses are behind the change. A note of caution for the Nazarbavev regime is required though, as falling labour market flexibility threatens the country’s growing competitiveness.

The fundamental obstacle to greater prosperity is institutional. Ranked 105th, Kazakhstan is struggling in the Governance sub-index. The ex-soviet state has been under the authoritarian leadership of President Nursultan Nazarbavev since 1990. Democracy levels are the lowest in the region. The government maintains its suppression of opposition and abuse of human rights, and promised democratic reforms are yet to appear on the basis that they could risk ‘destabilising’ the country. Unsurprisingly, Personal Freedom is not strong. Kazakhstan ranks just 122nd globally, the result of heavy restrictions on freedoms, weak civil liberties, and a 27% decline in already low press freedom. While the country is socially liberal (and performs well on gay rights), the death penalty remains in force and conscription was re-introduced in 2012.

Nevertheless, confidence in government is high as it is credited for Kazakhstan’s strong economic growth at the turn of the century. While still poor, Kazakhstan has been improving its Governance ranking as reforms to improve rule of law, accountability, and state transparency take effect. Last year saw a new wave of structural reforms– the ‘100 Concrete Steps, a Modern State for All’ Program–which includes strengthening these aspects of good governance yet further.

Some aspects of Kazakh prosperity have been consistently strong. Education in Kazakhstan is a high priority, reflected by the fact the country has always ranked in the top 40 for Education. The country also enjoys the highest education score in Central and Western Asia and was ranked first in UNESCO’s 2011 ‘Education for All’ Index.

Kazakhstan’s education level largely exceeds the world average and that of its regional peers.
Kazakhstan’s education level largely exceeds the world average and that of its regional peers.

As part of its ‘Kazakhstan 2050’ program, the nation has made huge efforts in raising literacy rates to 99.8% and in obtaining a 100% primary completion rate. Education inequality is very low and the girls to boys enrolment ratio is amongst the best in the world. Free and compulsory secondary education for all has led the country to enjoy the highest rate of secondary education per worker in the world, after Germany. Having also expanded pre-school access, for the next ten years Kazakhstan will continue major reforms across all education levels.

In some areas then, great success has been seen in transforming burgeoning Kazakh wealth into better lives for the Kazakh people. Poverty is falling, education is good, and the business environment is improving. Yet prosperity is still in deficit, held back by poor governance and weak freedoms. If Kazakhstan is to continue to improve its prosperity, these areas must be addressed.


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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.