X Y scatter chart showing the spread of the high income group of countries as a function of their GDP per capita. The sub-set of economies above both innovation index and gdp per capita median values comprises such countries as Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States. It is an interesting mix in which prevail small or even minuscule  countries : 11 countries have a population of 10 million or less, and only 3 countries count 65 million or above. The fact suggests that, even amongst high income and high innovative countries, the smaller ones achieve higher performances than the heavyweights.

The chart shows the spread of the innovation score for the HI group (high income country group according to the World Bank classification) as a function of the GDP (gross domestic product) per capita. The vertical red line corresponds to the median GDP per capita — $28 thousand — for the HI countries. The horizontal red line represents the median innovation score — 49.22 —, significantly higher than the median for the set of 125 countries — 34.18 — for which the innovation score has been established.

A comparative glance at the 125-country list and the HI list reveals that innovation, like many other goodies, favors the wealthy and remains unaffordable to poor countries. Top ranking innovative countries enjoy pretty comfortable GDP per capita. Poor countries do not rank well.

However, riches are not all. Some countries achieve modest innovation scores, despite enjoying lush incomes from their natural resources — the case of Brunei, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE or Kuwait. This suggests that living on a rent may not be a strong enough stimulus to induce innovative high performance. This inference is corroborated by the fact that countries such as Estonia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Hong Kong or Korea, despite being below the median GDP per capita, enjoy innovation indexes higher than the median (upper left quadrant)

The sub-set of economies above both median values — upper right quadrant — comprises such countries as Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States. It is an interesting mix in which prevail small or even minuscule countries : 11 countries have a population of 10 million or less, and only 3 countries count 65 million or above. The fact suggests that, even amongst high income and high innovative countries, the smaller ones achieve higher performances than the heavyweights.

There is also a strong correlation (r = 0.76; R² = 0.57). between the innovation score of the HI countries and the index of the 100 world top universities per capita. Although this could be expected, the fact seems to validate the view according to which high level universities are good catalysts of innovation.

Tongue on cheek, one may conclude that one's country will have a hard time to score high in innovation if it is big, lives on a rent, its universities suck, or if it is simply penniless.

 

Global Innovation Index
High Income Countries *
2011

Country

InnovationScore

Population 2011
(million)

GDP 2010
(billion US$) ¹

GDP per capita
(thousand US$)

Australia49.8523843 ²35.9
Austria50.758.833938.4
Bahrain37.81.32819 ²14.1
Belgium49.051142137.2
Brunei Darussalam30.930.40910 ²23.9
Canada56.33361,41839.7
Croatia37.984.65512.0
Cyprus46.451.14623 ²19.9
Czech Republic47.31117315.8
Denmark56.965.828048.2
Estonia49.181.4001712.0
Finland57.55.621538.1
France49.25672,30634.6
Germany54.89862,98234.5
Greece34.181227522.9
Hong Kong (SAr), China58.87.420227.4
Hungary48.121011811.3
Iceland55.10.3361133.8
Ireland54.14.718439.5
Israel54.037.819625.2
Italy40.69641,84828.7
Japan50.321354,95336.7
Korea, Republic53.684991418.5
Kuwait36.642.8136 ³48.2
Latvia39.82.3229.2
Luxembourg52.650.5365092.7
Netherlands56.311770640.7
New Zealand53.794.6115 ²25.3
Norway52.65.137372.5
Oman35.512.942 ²14.7
Poland38.024042210.6
Portugal42.41120618.4
Qatar47.741.990 ²47.9
Saudi Arabia36.4428342 ²12.1
Singapore59.645.320138.0
Slovak Republic39.055.68014.3
Slovenia45.072.14320.3
Spain43.81491,26826.0
Sweden62.121041341.5
Switzerland63.828.147258.4
Trinidad and Tobago32.171.41813.5
United Arab Emirates41.997.9210 ²26.6
United Kingdom55.96652,02431.0
United States of America56.5732513,13840.4
Median49.22  28.0
 * The World Bank divides world economies in "income groups", according to 2010 gross national income (GNI) per capita. The groups are : low income, $1,005 or less; lower middle income, $1,006 - $3,975; upper middle income, $3,976 - $12,275; and high income, $12,276 or more.
 ¹ Real US dollars, 2005=100
 ² GDP value for 2009
 ³ GDP value for 2008

 

Sources: INSEAD - The Global Innovation Index for the innovation index, United Nations Population Division for population data, and World DataBank The World Bank for GDP estimates.

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