Saturday, 11 September 2010

Polish Competitivesness data

A article paints a nicely positive picture of World Economic Forum report on Global Competitiveness. I immediately wanted to know more and was pleased to see that the Forum website has both a 'highlights' summary (not short) and the full report.

Perhaps I have worked too much in the production, analysis and use of statistics, but I treat reports like these as a useful addition to the full range of information available, rather than truth in themselves. If I was still working on such issues, I would go through the complete report to try and understand the assumptions and methods, etc. I would never trust newsmedia reports, as the potential inaccuracy and misunderstanding is too great. The has only four sentences, for example, but one (the last) is untrue, presumably because of sloppy writing.

I have just picked out information on the structure of Polish competitiveness from the report, which is compared below to that of the UK and US. (Sorry that the lines are straight, but I don't know if I can make it better with the writing tools I have on the blog.)


Global Competitiveness Total____________39________12________14

(of which)

Basic Requirements____________________56________18_________3
(of which:)
Macro-economic Environment___________61________56________57
Health and Primary Education___________39________19________42

Efficiency Enhancers________________________30________7_________3
(of which:)
Higher Education and training___________26________18_________9
Goods Market Efficiency_______________45________22________26
Labour Market Efficiency______________53_________8_________4
Financial Market Development___________32________25________31
Technological Readiness_______________47_________8________17
Market Size________________________21_________6_________1

Innovation and Sophistication Factors__________________________50________12_________4
(of which:)
Business Sophistication_______________50_________9_________8

On this breakdown, you can see that the strength of Poland's position depends entirely on higher education and training, financial market development and market size. I hadn't thought about the relative position of Poland as far as financial market development is concerned, but, if I had, I would have thought in terms of comparison with the UK and US. Have a look: you will immediately wonder what this indicator means. The statistics tell me that Poland is roughly equivalent to the US and not far behind the UK. Great, but the US and the UK, generally considered in popular belief to have some of the most advanced financial systems in the world, are well down the league table in this report.

I have a theory that, from a business lobby economist's point of view, Poland's poor public health service currently provides a good balance between social requirements and financial burden for the country's development. It's current inadequacy and its public/private balance gives Poland one of the best opportunities within Europe to develop a future model that maintains this balance. I also think that primary education in Poland is of high quality compared to many other EU countries, including the UK, and other reports support this. The joint result for this in the table isn't bad, but I would have expected higher for a competitiveness report. However, look at the poor rating of the US. I can't help suspect that half the political spectrum in the US would consider this is a politically unbalanced indicator, assuming the benefit of state intervention.

The Forum's full report would probably give me many answers, but I am not interested enough in the detail to go through its 515 PDF pages. It is on the website and free, so that's my problem. Unfortunately for those of us with only general interest, most reports are commercial and have to be bought - sometimes as a wider subscription. We have little ability to find the truth.

There are lies, damn lies and statistics produced by people so that they are interesting.

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