Despite a widespread misconception to the contrary, high taxes and extensive social security systems do not in themselves render a nation economically uncompetitive.

Witness the Baltic nation of Finland, a diversified modern industrial economy with a population of little more than five million, that now bests the United States in terms of global competitiveness.

For the second year running, Finland tops the list in the 2005 World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report - an annual ranking of 117 nations. The US is again relegated to runner-up, ahead of two other Nordic nations Sweden and Denmark, respectively third and fourth.

The study is based on economic data and business opinion surveys in 117 countries. Comments the WEF: "[The north European nations] are challenging the conventional wisdom that high taxes and large safety nets undermine competitiveness."

According to the organization, these are the top twenty nations in terms of per capita competitive brawn …

New Page 1

2005 Rank
Country
2004 Rank
1
Finland
1
2
United States
2
3
Sweden
3
4
Denmark
5
5
Taiwan
4
6
Singapore
7
7
Iceland
10
8
Switzerland
8
9
Norway
6
10
Australia
14
11
Netherlands
12
12
Japan
9
13
United Kingdom
11
14
Canada
15
15
Germany
13
16
New Zealand
18
17
Korea, Rep.
29
18
United Arab Emirates
16
19
Qatar
20
Estonia
20


The WEF is best known for its annual jamboree in Davos where, under conditions of draconian security, global business and political leaders converge to confabulate in the Swiss mountain resort.

Data sourced from USA Today Online; additional content by WARC staff