Luxembourg ranks third worldwide on the index of growth promise indicators (GPIs), according to a report released by KPMG Global this month. Country-specific raw data on debt, trade, education, life expectancy, technology, government transparency, and many other categories were funnelled through a weighting system developed by expert analysts and translated into scores in five areas: macroeconomic stability; openness to catch-up; infrastructure; human capital; and institutional strength. The composite of these five resulted in a single GPI score, the highest being held by the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Fourteen of the top 20 countries are European, and eight of the top ten. Among the more notable changes in ranking compared to last year's survey are Hungry (43rd) and Costa Rica (46th), which each jumped six spots. In contrast, Macedonia (77th) fell eleven places, and South Africa (87th) twenty-two.

One of the more interesting of the five metrics is perhaps "openness." The study found openness trending downwards, with 97 countries becoming less open since 2012. This backswing follows a five-year period, 2002-07, during which 122 countries became more open. Neither statistic is too surprising, perhaps, given what happened between these two periods, i.e. the financial crisis. The trend seems to lend empirical support to what many have surmised, that the crisis begat scepticism in the marketplace which begat a slowdown in globalisation, reflected popularly in the likes of Trump and Brexit.

In the report, Luxembourg earns a trend-bucking 10 out of 10 in openness, compared to, for example, the United States' lacklustre 0.65. The Grand Duchy's lowest score is its 6.98 in human development, a full point below the top ten's average of 7.98. The category looks at education, measured by school enrolment figures and data from the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), as well as life expectancy scores.

Education is a hot-button issue in Luxembourg, notably for issues arising from multilingualism. Students have a diversity of native tongues and must navigate a public education system that gives instruction first in German and then in French—while communicating with each other largely in Luxembourgish. Despite, or perhaps because of, the emphasis on languages, Luxembourg has still managed to rank 7th worldwide in English proficiency in the EF English Proficiency Index (which excludes countries where English is the primary language), published in November 2017. The importance of English is further reflected in a recent trend, amongst state schools in Luxembourg, of introducing English streams. While I was not part of the GPI assessment process, I would venture that Luxembourg's score was affected by its unique language situation, and the resulting comparative difficulty of its school system.

Read the full GPI report here.

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