The Global Competitiveness Report assesses the competitiveness landscape of 138 economies, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity. Switzerland, Singapore and the United States remain the three world’s most competitive economies.

The 2016–2017 edition of the Global Competitiveness Report is being launched at a time of rising income inequality, mounting social and political tensions, and a general feeling of uncertainty about the future. Growth remains persistently low: commodity prices have fallen, as has trade; external imbalances are increasing; and government finances are stressed. However, it also comes during one of the most prosperous and peaceful times in recorded history, with less disease, poverty, and violent conflict than ever before. Against this backdrop of seeming contradictions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings both unprecedented opportunity and an accelerated speed of change.

Creating the conditions necessary to reignite growth could not be more urgent. The Report this year is the latest edition of the Forum’s longstanding cross-country benchmarking analysis of the factors and institutions that determine long-term growth and prosperity. Incentivizing innovation is especially important for finding new growth engines, but laying the foundations for long-term, sustainable growth requires working on all factors and institutions identified in the Global Competitiveness Index.

Leveraging the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will require not only businesses willing and able to innovate, but also sound institutions, both public and private; basic infrastructure, health, and education; macroeconomic stability; and well-functioning labor, financial, and human capital markets.

Although there is broad consensus on the importance of the factors currently measured in the Index, we are undertaking a review process that seeks to understand the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on measures of productivity and the drivers of growth. In the second chapter of this Report, we present our thinking regarding the potential future structure of the Index, building on consultations with experts on each pillar under the thought leadership of our main academic advisor, Professor Xavier Sala-i-Martín. It explores new ways of assessing innovation, human capital, and competitiveness at different stages of development, as well as our latest thinking on how our benchmarking tools can be used for policy prioritization.

We face a large challenge—how to build a more prosperous and inclusive world for all. As a flagship effort of the Forum’s System Initiative on Economic Growth and Social Inclusion, The Global Competitiveness Report serves as a tool for public-private collaboration on long-term competitiveness agendas contributing to this objective.

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