THE LEGATUM PROSPERITY INDEX™ 2016

Bringing Prosperity to Life

Qatar

Ranked 46th of 149

At a glance

Ranks

46 th on the Legatum
Prosperity Index™

24th
24th
60th
93rd
15th
41st
98th
36th
69th

SUB-INDEX RANKINGS

In the Prosperity Sub-Index rankings, Qatar performs best on Health and Business Environment and scores lowest on the Personal Freedom sub-index.

Visit our Rankings table to see how Qatar 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.

Qatar’s performance is typical of the Gulf region: it significantly under delivers prosperity compared to its great wealth. In fact, its prosperity deficit is the 7th largest in the world and is larger than Kuwait’s and Saudi Arabia’s. It has particularly high deficits in Personal Freedom and in Education, in the latter of which its deficit is the largest in the world.

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

Qatar is the richest country in the world by GDP per capita and like other nations in the Gulf, its economy is heavily oil dependent. Given sustained low oil prices, Qatar has worked to diversify its economy in recent years by expanding its manufacturing and services industries. Also, Qatar aims to emulate the UAE in becoming an important tourist destination and is investing heavily in the development of this industry, particularly given the fact that it will host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Qatar has seen modest improvement in Economic Quality moving up eight ranks and edging into the global 25 in this sub-index. There is a high level of satisfaction with living standards – 86% of those polled – and a high labour force participation rate of 87.2%, though the Qatar labour force relies heavily on foreign workers. There has been heavy criticism of Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers, particularly those in low-paid sectors such as domestic services and construction. Unsurprisingly, Qatar’s female labour force participation rate is low – at 51.7%. Trade barriers have gone up over the past decade and while export diversity has gone up recently, this remains an important area of improvement for Qatar.

On a related note, Qatar has made good progress in Business Environment, reflecting its drive to become more innovative and economically diverse: it has moved up five ranks to 24th since 2007. Infrastructure and transport has improved over the past decade and there are still major ongoing works in the run up to the 2022 World Cup, including the development of a new metro, light railway, and a more extensive bus system. Redundancy costs have been reduced by more than half, while hiring/firing practices have also been eased to make the labour market more flexible. While it is easier to get credit than it was before, the obtaining of credit remains an issue and could be further eased to drive entrepreneurship.

Qatar’s best performance comes in Health and it leads the entire MENA region in the sub-index, ranking 15th globally. Qatar has invested heavily in improving healthcare and spending on healthcare is among the highest of the Middle East. Some of the investment has paid off: life expectancy has risen by nearly 1.5 years to 78.8, though this is below the OECD average. Mortality rates have also dropped considerably. Further progress, however, is hampered by a particularly high prevalence of obesity. Obesity affects 42.3% of its population, the highest in the world.

Qatar might lead MENA in the Health, but has the highest levels of obesity in the world, affecting 42.3% of its population.
Qatar might lead MENA in the Health, but has the highest levels of obesity in the world, affecting 42.3% of its population.

Like its peers in the Gulf, Qatar continues to perform poorly in Governance, though it has made notable progress in this sub-index, moving up 23 ranks to 60th over the past decade. Its performance is, unsurprisingly, constrained by its absence of democracy. Qatari law prohibits the creation of other political bodies and trade unions. Notably, however, Qatar now outperforms both Turkey and Brazil in this sub-index, despite the fact that the latter are democracies – though this says more about Turkey’s and Brazil’s failures in Governance than Qatar’s progress. Nevertheless, there has been some progress in Qatar in moving towards a welfare state with government departments created to ensure social and economic progress and there has been a move towards greater transparency over the past decade. Judicial Independence is also stronger than in Turkey, for example. However, Qatar’s overall performance sees it have the 10th biggest prosperity deficit in Governance globally.

Qatar has made progress in increasing government transparency, but there is a long way to go for serious progress.
Qatar has made progress in increasing government transparency, but there is a long way to go for serious progress.

Qatar’s worst performance comes in Personal Freedom, moving up seven ranks to 98th. Though the bar is, admittedly, quite low in the region, it does outperform its Gulf peers in this sub-index. Positively, there is a growing and high tolerance for immigrants and ethnic minorities, though this is offset by the lack of LGBT rights. Homosexuality is still illegal in Qatar, punishably by death for Muslims and by up to five years in prison for consenting males. Much of the law in Qatar is based on strict Sharia law, so the government restrictions on religion are particularly high and have, actually, increased since 2007. The death penalty is still legal, while floggings and stoning remain legal forms of punishment. In terms of gender equality and women’s rights, there has been some progress: Qatar was the first country in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) to enfranchise women and women are allowed to run for public councils. Despite this, human rights concerns and the low level of Personal Freedom in Qatar play a major role in hindering greater prosperity.

Education is another sub-index in which Qatar does poorly and it performs the second worst of the Gulf states in this sub-index, ranking 93rd. Very little movement is recorded in Education over the past decade, causing Qatar to slip seven ranks. Educational quality is low (PISA score) and there is little access to all levels of education for its population, whether secondary, vocational, or tertiary. Workers in Qatar have an average of only 2.8 years of secondary education, though this performance may be affected by a high low-skilled migrant population.

Likewise, there has been little progress made in the Natural Environment sub-index. As a result, Qatar has moved down 22 ranks to 69th. It has some of the highest levels of per capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world and around 30.8% of its population live in areas where pollution is above the recommended WHO levels. As Qatar further develops its business environment, it is important that this does not come at too great an expense of the natural environment. Furthermore, given the high level of oil-dependency in the country (and region) as a whole, it is important, not only for citizens’ overall health, but also for Qatar’s long-term economic health, to improve sustainability and invest in alternative energy sources. Given Qatar’s wealth and sunny climate, the potential of developing a solar energy sector should not be understated.


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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.