Norway tops new prosperity survey

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Norway has done a “remarkable” job converting its national wealth into widespread prosperity for its residents, according to the latest Sustainable Economic Development Assessment (SEDA) conducted by the international Boston Consulting Group. Norway tops SEDA’s ranking of 152 countries.

Norwegians enjoy the world’s highest level of well-being along with the Swiss, according to a new Sustainable Economic Development Assessment. PHOTO:

The SEDA survey measures how wealth is used to improve well-being in each individual country. Data is derived from numerous sources including the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum. The assessment for 2018 is based mostly on statistics from 2016.

Norway’s economy has improved since then, in line with the rise in oil prices. As of two years ago, it nonetheless shared the top spot with Switzerland, followed by Iceland, Luxembourg and Denmark.

‘Towering over the others’
“Norway has consistently been the country that has towered over all the others in the SEDA ranking,” Joao Hrotko, a BCG partner who authored the report, told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “Its strong performance in taking its wealth (largely from its oil industry) and converting it into well-being is remarkable, and especially meaningful.”

Several countries climbed strongly up the SEDA rankings list this year, including China, Colombia and Morocco. Singapore was the only non-European country in the list’s top 10. Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the US were in the top 20.

There are some warning flags for Norway, however. Norwegians are slipping in terms of salary development, probably a reflection of several years of moderate or hardly any pay raises as labour unions went along with efforts to save jobs during the economic downturn that began when oil prices fell in 2014. Pay levels are simply growing more slowly in Norway than in other Nordic and EU countries.

Pay rising more quickly elsewhere
Norway is also lagging on investment in infrastructure and the environment, but its conservative government coalition and local governments have been taking steps to boost at least the former through heavy investment in public transportation, the country’s train system, roads and school buildings, for example.

Hrotko doesn’t think there’s anything dramatic in the slower rate of pay growth, claiming that the negative income development measured by GNP per resident and adjusted for differences in the cost of living over the last 10 years also reflects how other countries are experiencing a stronger and faster rate of improvement.

Average pay growth this year is expected to be 2.9 percent, according to the Norwegian central bank. No major increases are expected in the years ahead either. Kjersti Haugland, chief economist at DNB Markets, told DN that real growth, adjusted for inflation, is likely to only be around 0.7 percent this year. Berglund