THE LEGATUM PROSPERITY INDEX™ 2016

Bringing Prosperity to Life

Lebanon

Ranked 105th of 149

At a glance

Ranks

105 th on the Legatum
Prosperity Index™

82nd
100th
131st
101st
83rd
80th
120th
129th
82nd

SUB-INDEX RANKINGS

In the Prosperity Sub-Index rankings, Lebanon performs best on Safety & Security and Natural Environment and scores lowest on the Governance sub-index.

Visit our Rankings table to see how Lebanon 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.

Lebanon has a much larger prosperity deficit than Israel and Jordan, but a much smaller one than Iran and Iraq. Political and social unrest have widened Lebanon’s prosperity deficit by around 46% from 2007 to 2016.

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

The Prosperity Index shows how external pressures – regional conflict and refugee inflows – and internal pressures – domestic political disruption – have devastated Lebanon’s prosperity. Many of issues Lebanon faces are similar to those faced by Jordan, but Lebanon has shown less resilience in dealing with these issues.

Governance, Personal Freedom, and Social Capital performance in Lebanon
Lebanon has seen a near continuous decline in its global ranking of Governance, Personal Freedom, and Social Capital

The civil war in Syria had a particularly disruptive effect on Lebanese politics. Lebanese political parties’ pre-war alliances with foreign powers – some with the Syrian regime and Iran; others with the Syrian opposition, Saudi Arabia and the West – have created within Lebanon a fight for domination and increased political polarisation. Disruption continues as Lebanon maintains its officially neutral role in the Syrian conflict, however, the refugee flows continue, Hezbollah fighters are supporting the Syrian regime, and tensions remain with both coalitions in the Syrian war. While these events have worsened Lebanon’s performance in the Safety & Security sub-index, particularly due to terrorism related deaths, the worst outcomes are seen in the Governance, Personal Freedom, and Social Capital sub-indices.

There have been two general election postponements since 2013 in Lebanon due to disagreement over a new electoral law, leading to a de facto term extension. By most accounts, the next general election is unlikely to occur before 2017. Weak institutions, a polarised regional landscape between Sunni and Shi’a, continuous political disagreements on public policy, and rampant corruption, along with the stresses of hosting a large refugee population, has paralysed governance. Of all Governance component variables, the sharpest decline was in the Corruption Perceptions Index – Lebanon now has one of the highest perceptions of public sector corruption in the region. Rule of law, judicial independence, the transparency of government policymaking and, unsurprisingly, people’s confidence in the national government, have all weakened.

In the face of deteriorating governance, civil society and private organisations have stepped in to offer some voice and stability. Civil society groups, for example, made repeated calls and demonstrations against the government’s de facto term extension. Lebanese youth, unimpressed with their political parties’ inability to address basic issues (including garbage removal), have also made their voice heard. However, popular mobilisation did not materialise and civil society has yet to create a new, non-sectarian political formation that is capable of overcoming these problems. In terms of the Social Capital sub-index, Lebanon experienced the sharpest drop in voter turnout, which is adjusted by the country’s democracy level: due to the de facto term extension, this value has dropped to 0. Speaking to the civil society issues, Social Capital component variables like helping strangers, trust in the police, voicing opinions to public officials, and having support from friends and family all deteriorated.

Not only is Social Capital failing to compensate for deteriorating Governance, but the Lebanese have seen their Personal Freedom decline, too. Entry regulations passed in January 2015 seriously restricted Syrian refugees from entering Lebanon and stringent residency laws gave no legal status to Syrian refugees within Lebanon. The Personal Freedom component variables measuring the tolerance of immigrants and ethnic minorities have both deteriorated over recent years. Freedoms of assembly and expression have also been curtailed. In 2015, the police used excessive force on people protesting against corruption and the garbage removal issue. Detained protestors charged with violence are now in military trials. Criticising the Lebanese president or army is still a criminal offence. The Personal Freedom component variable, a survey question that asks people whether they are satisfied with the freedom to choose what they want to do in their life, has weakened in light of these events.


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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.