The Index provides leaders at a national and local level with an overview of their country’s performance across the 12 pillars of prosperity and provides the foundation for setting an agenda to create pathways from poverty to prosperity. These can be developed and refined using the more in-depth accompanying resources.
The Index and its accompanying resources allow policymakers to benchmark nations’ performances against peers across 12 pillars and 65 elements of prosperity to create a much more granular perspective of performance and the potential binding constraints to development.
Each of the 65 elements of prosperity have been designed to be recognisable, discrete areas of domestic policy, and measured using a combination of indicators from a variety of public data sources. The indicators should be interpreted as a set of proxies for the underlying policy concept and we would encourage policymakers to interpret a country’s score and rank for an element as the trigger for more fundamental analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of its performance. Benchmarking against a basket of international metrics must be complemented by in-depth context-sensitive analysis, which itself can lead to more balanced agendas across a range of policy areas.
In addition to helping focus analysis, these materials, together with the database of performance, also allow policymakers to develop diagnostic tools and to identify potential options to consider, based on the performance of other countries, and the case studies provided.
Beyond the familiar humanitarian and living conditions-focussed efforts, there are many opportunities to invest in building stronger social, political, and economic outcomes. For example:
- Governance: While there is already extensive NGO engagement in activities such as monitoring elections, many more upstream opportunities exist to support capability building within governments. This is not only developing the organisational capital, but also providing professional experience across all the technical aspects of the machinery of government, e.g. strategic planning and judicial functions. This need not be direct support, but could be an enabling or financing role.
- Social Capital: Institutional and interpersonal trust are two critical factors that will help the countries of the world build true prosperity. However, these are less-understood areas, and there is a unique role for philanthropists to identify and champion what it takes to increase trust and build social capital.
- Enterprise Conditions: Some NGOs have enhanced prosperity at a local level by working with local businesses to identify barriers to starting, operating, and growing businesses and developing collaborative approaches to resolving them at a local and national level.
- Infrastructure: Ensuring that large-scale programmes deliver on their potential for the broader population can be very challenging when inadequate attention is paid to last-mile challenges, whether it be access to roads, electricity connections, or mobile coverage. Measurements of levels of access help overcome this.
Investors and business leaders
The business community is well positioned to identify barriers to starting, operating, and growing business, and to demonstrate to government the economic potential from reforms such as lifting onerous regulation. Likewise, business leaders and investors can work with government to improve the investment environment, contributing to the strengthening of investor protections and corporate governance, as well as identifying the potential from improved contract enforcement in many jurisdictions.
Furthermore, business leaders and investors can contribute to infrastructure policy development by demonstrating the economic impact of investment in communications, transport, and energy projects, where they can be the binding constraint on development.
Academics and Researchers
For academics and researchers, our database of curated indicators is a unique resource enabling cross-country comparison of trends and patterns across the past 13 years for much of the data. By providing a holistic dataset across many disciplines, it provides an opportunity to compare in a straightforward way the impact of disparate factors such as how political terror is related to education levels, or property rights with reserves of renewable water.
Journalists and civil society
The Prosperity Index is based on publicly available and verifiable data, which means it can be a powerful resource for those who want to hold up a mirror to those in power and society at large. Holding leaders to account is a crucial role for both journalists and civil society. The institutional, economic, and social performance of a nation is critical to its prosperity, and having non-government actors calling out weaknesses, as well as celebrating successes, can help spur on national leaders. To do so well requires easy access to reliable data that can be represented in a digestible way.