Hong Kong is 19th 'most prosperous' region in the world, report says

Taiwan and the mainland were ranked 22nd and 51st, respectively

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 October, 2013, 6:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 October, 2013, 6:27pm

Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland have all risen in rank on a global report that indexes the most prosperous regions around the world.

The report, officially known as the 2013 Legatum Prosperity Index, is an annual study sponsored by the Legatum Institute, an independent public policy organisation based in London.

“The Legatum Prosperity Index offers a unique insight into how prosperity is forming and changing across the world,” a description on the Legatum Institute site reads. “Traditionally, a nation’s prosperity has been based solely on…a country’s income, represented either by GDP or by average income per person.

“However, most people would agree that prosperity is more than just the accumulation of material wealth, it is also the joy of everyday life and the prospect of being able to build an even better life in the future. The Prosperity Index is distinctive in that it is the only global measurement of prosperity based on both income and well being.”

After analysing academic literature and survey information obtained from 142 regions in the areas of economics, entrepreneurship, governance, education, health, safety, personal freedom and social capital, analysts creating the report concluded that overall, Hong Kong was the 19th “most prosperous” region in the world, while Taiwan ranked 22nd and mainland China 51st.

Hong Kong’s ranking in overall prosperity increased three places since 2009. Researchers found that Hongkongers were especially satisfied with safety and security, particularly thanks to “decreases in rates of property being stolen, assault rates and demographic pressures, as well as an increase in the perception of being able to walk safely at home at night.” Compared to previous years, however, the city suffered declines in volunteerism.

In comparison, Taiwan only moved up one place since 2009, and data indicated that “decreasing civil liberties” were making Taiwan citizens less satisfied in their personal freedoms. Despite general contentment with living standards, the data showed that a relatively large number of Taiwanese – 68.9 per cent – believed that business and government corruption was widespread.

Mainland China, identified in the study as a still-developing region, notably ranked lower than Hong Kong and Taiwan, but was singled out for a tremendous improvement in economy, where it had risen dramatically since 2009 as “the result of an increase in capital per worker and a fall in inflation.” Contrary to frequent media claims, the data indicated that only 50.9 per cent of mainlanders felt that corruption was a widespread problem – a figure lower than Taiwan’s percentage.

Neighbouring countries Japan and South Korea ranked 21st and 26th in global prosperity, while Hong Kong’s close economic rival Singapore inched ahead slightly, claiming the 18th spot. The United States ranked 11th and the United Kingdom 16th.

The Legatum Prosperity Index concluded that overall, more Asian countries had risen in rank in the last few years thanks to fast-growing emerging markets. Despite this, out of the study’s top six “most prosperous” nations – Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand  and Denmark - four were European.