Yesterday, the World Bank released its Human Capital Index (HCI), a measure of how much human potential nations realise.
Singapore takes the top spot. A child born there can expect to realize 88% of their potential. Switzerland comes 20th with 77%, just ahead of New Zealand.
Among european nations, Switzerland is 14th, behind Italy (13th), Norway (12th), Denmark (11th), Portugal (10th), United Kingdom (9th), Czech Republic (8th), Slovenia (7th), Austria (6th), Germany (5th), Netherlands (4th), Sweden (3rd), Ireland (2nd) and Finland (1st).
The calculation looks at child and adult survival rates and education.
In all of the top 20 countries children have a 99% or 100% chance of making it to 5. While the chance of making it beyond 60, ranges from 92% to 95%.
This means that most of the HCI differences among these front runners are driven by differences in education.
Compared to Singapore, Swiss children spend 7 months less at school and do 10% less well in standardized tests.
The 13.3 years of expected school in Switzerland is based on enrollment rates between the ages 4 and 17. The figure for Singapore is 13.9.
Differences in preschool education and leaving school early to take up apprenticeships might affect this figure.
In addition, a conversion factor is used to compare standardized tests internationally, so the final figures are not perfect. Here Switzerland scores 524 and Singapore 581.
Switzerland’s HCI is 1% higher for women than for men, a difference explained mainly by gender differences in death rates between 15 and 60 – 96% of Swiss women make it beyond 60 compared to 94% of men.
At the other end of the HCI spectrum are Chad (29%), South Sudan (30%) and Niger (32%). In Chad 12% don’t make it to their fifth birthday, and of those who do, 40% die between 15 and 60. A child in Chad is expected to spend only 5 years at school.
World Bank human capital project (in English)