The Determinants of National Competitiveness

The Determinants of National Competitiveness

Mercedes Delgado, Christian Ketels, Michael E. Porter, Scott Stern

NBER Working Paper No. 18249
Issued in July 2012
NBER Program(s):   PR

We define foundational competitiveness as the expected level of output per working-age individual that is supported by the overall quality of a country as a place to do business. The focus on output per potential worker, a broader measure of national productivity than output per current worker, reflects the dual role of workforce participation and output per worker in determining a nation’s standard of living. Our framework highlights three broad and interrelated drivers of foundational competitiveness: social infrastructure and political institutions, monetary and fiscal policy, and the microeconomic environment. We estimate this framework using multiple data sets covering more than 130 countries over the 2001-2008 period. We find a positive and separate influence of each driver on output per potential worker. The microeconomic environment has a positive effect on output per potential worker even after controlling for historical legacies. Using our framework we define a new concept, global investment attractiveness, which is the cost of factor inputs relative to a country’s competitiveness. This analysis reveals important insight into the economic trajectory of individual countries. Our framework also offers a novel methodology for the estimation of a theoretically grounded and empirically validated measure of national competitiveness.

This paper is available as PDF (1168 K).

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