Bringing Prosperity to Life


Ranked 24th of 149

At a glance


24 th on the Legatum
Prosperity Index™



In the Prosperity Sub-Index rankings, Malta performs best on Social Capital and Personal Freedom and scores lowest on the Natural Environment sub-index.

Visit our Rankings table to see how Malta 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.

While Malta became more and more of an over-deliverer of prosperity between 2007 and 2016, and while it is better at delivering prosperity than its southern European peers like Italy, Cyprus, and Greece, it still lags behind Spain and France in terms of over-delivery.

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.


In some sub-indices, Malta shows many of the typical attributes of a southern European state. In others, it is closer to the more economically developed northern Europe.

Like its southern European neighbours, Malta enjoys high levels of Safety & Security. On an individual level, people feel safe walking alone at night, and have adequate access to food and shelter. On a state level, Malta has a low rating on the political terror scale.

The failure to address structural social issues, however, marks Malta out in a poor light from its southern European peers. Gender equality is one issue. Malta’s female labour force participation rate – at 47.9% - is substantially lower than the average of France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain – 63.6%. Women are also under-represented in parliament. Only 13% of members of parliament are women, compared to 41% in Spain, 31% in Italy and Portugal, and 21% in Greece.

Malta breaks with its peers in a more positive light on other issues. A move into labour-intensive, export-oriented services, particularly finance, legal and accounting, and iGaming, over recent years has seen Malta’s Economic Quality rank go from 42nd in 2007 to 33rd in 2016. This rank places it below France, in 17th place, but above Portugal, Italy, Spain, and Greece. In 2016, 83% of Maltese people said they were satisfied with their standard of living. This is the same proportion as the UK and is a much higher proportion than that recorded in any of Malta’s southern European peers. Similarly, Malta’s unemployment rate of 5.9% is closer to Germany’s at 5% or the UK’s at 4.9% than it is to the southern European average level of 17.5%.

Economic Quality score (level of Economic Quality) in Malta, Southern Europe (Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, and Portugal) and the European Union.
Malta’s Economic Quality puts it far ahead of its Southern European neighbours, but below the EU average.

Despite the current government’s concerted effort to secure more foreign investment and attract more international business, particularly from investors outside the EU, Malta has seen a deterioration on crucial measures of Governance that place a drag on growth and may erode its high levels of social capital. Although public sector corruption has long been an issue in Malta, perceptions of corruption have worsened from 2007 to 2016 and it has emerged as a major political issue in 2016, when the press reported in the “Panama Papers” scandal that the Prime Minister’s Head of Secretariat, Keith Schembri, and the Health and Energy Minister, Konrad Mizzi, who were both heavily involved in many major foreign investment projects and privatisation deals, set up complex and secretive offshore financial vehicles around the time of their negotiations with investors.

A report commissioned by the European Parliament, and researched by RAND, estimated that Malta lost as much 11.67% of its GDP to corruption every year between 1995 and 2015. Survey data from Gallup show that the percentage of Maltese people who think that corruption is widespread throughout their government went from 50% in 2014 to 60% in 2016. Of the 27 other countries Gallup polled in 2016, only Iraq and Mauritania saw larger increases in the perception of government corruption than Malta.

The Maltese government is a signatory to the 2016 Global Declaration Against Corruption, which announces national leaders’ shared ambition to tackling corruption. It remains to be seen whether Malta will follow through on its stated commitment to expose, punish, and drive out corruption.

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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.