Contributors and Detractors: Ranking Countries’ Impact on Global Innovation

January 20, 2016

Robust innovation is essential for economic growth and social progress around the world. Until now, most studies of innovation policy looked at how nations’ policies affect innovation in their own country. This report assesses 56 countries—which comprise almost 90 percent of the global economy—on 27 factors reflecting the extent to which their economic and trade policies contribute to and detract from innovation globally.

The report finds that on a per-capita basis, the nations doing the most for global innovation (a combination of more effort on policies that support innovation and less on policies that harm it) are Finland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. In contrast, India, Indonesia, and Argentina score the lowest overall. Singapore, Korea, and Finland rank highest on how much their policies contribute to global innovation. In contrast, India, China, and Thailand have put in place policies that have done the most to harm global innovation. The United States ranks 10th overall, with policies that do little to detract from global innovation yet fall short of those of other nations when it comes to contributing to global innovation. China ranks 44th overall, principally because it fields so many policies that actively detract from the global innovation system. The report also finds a strong correlation between countries’ contributions to global innovation and their levels of innovation success, meaning that doing well domestically on innovation policy can also mean doing well for the world.

The report concludes that for the world to maximize global innovation capacity, it will need to develop stronger mechanisms to encourage nations to do more contributing and less detracting.