It so happened that on the eve of Ukraine’s Independence Day Newsweek published its ranking of the world’s 100 best countries. This ranking uses a specific methodology based on five categories: education, healthcare services, quality of life, economic dynamism, and political environment. According to the materials published by Newsweek, the consultants of the Canadian firm Providence Group made certain comparisons between five former Soviet republics and Canada. We would like to note that Canada has several times won the first place in the rating of the world’s best countries (this year it ranks seventh). While drawing such parallels we would like to compare Ukraine’s place with that of other post-Soviet countries. Some Ukrainian mass media have already reported that Ukraine is ahead of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan in the rating. However, a more detailed analysis shows that Ukraine still lags behind its neighbors in many areas. The only category which allowed Ukraine to outstrip its rivals from the CIS was political environment.
The category itself consisted of three rankings: (1) liberty, freedom of speech and conscience, and human rights; (2) participation in elections; (3) political stability. While the first index placed Ukraine ahead of the group, second only to Canada, Russia was level with Ukraine in the second, and Ukraine came out last in the third. No wonder investors prefer our more stable neighbors.
Moreover, Ukraine’s investments and economy leave a lot to be desired, especially with regards to the population’s wealth. The average income in Ukraine is 2.800 dollars, while in Azerbaijan it is 4.840 dollars, 5.540 dollars in Belarus, 6.740 dollars in Kazakhstan, 9.370 dollars in Russia, and 42.200 dollars in Canada.
The analysis of economic dynamism showed that Ukraine is ranked 142nd in terms of difficulties in running a business. Even Russia came 120th. Thus it appears that Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, and even Russia, were able to create a more favorable climate for investments and economic growth than Ukraine was. In this category, Ukraine only occupied the 66th position.
The quality of life, safety, unemployment figures, and environmental situation allowed Ukraine to earn enough points to occupy the 40th place in that category. However, it is hard to believe that Ukraine can boast of the second lowest unemployment level within that group — Belarus came in first.
Also, Ukrane found itself on the 40th position in the category “education.” Healthcare was so bad that Ukraine ended up 75th. This is a problem which even our neighbors were unable to overcome. Their average life expectancy is 13 years more than in Ukraine, and 17 years more than in Kazakhstan, this might outweigh all the other indices, no matter how high they are.
Most of the data was based on figures from 2009. However, even now one can clearly see the spheres and categories in which the government and parliament of Ukraine will have to do their best if they want to at least preserve this position in the next ranking. And yet the dream to enter the world’s 20 best countries list (mind you, not the most powerful) must have wider support among the population and then be gradually implemented in all levels of power.
Taras Paslavsky is a director for international relations working for a consulting company Providence Group (Toronto, Canada)