Research - 25.04.2024 - 08:00 

Elite Quality Index 2024 places Singapore ahead of Switzerland in a race to the top

The annual Elite Quality Index 2024, the leading global political economy index, is a comparative ranking which measures the sustainability of nations, whether elites create value and expand a nation’s knowledge capabilities or whether they use their power to rent-seek and selfishly increase their own profits at the cost of society.

The fifth edition of the Elite Quality Index (EQx2024) was released placing Singapore in the #1 position. It analysed 151 countries using 146 indicators and measured conceptual elements such as Power, Creative Destruction and Unearned Income to determine whether the elites of a given country created or extracted value from their nation.

Elites can be defined as the top 1% of a society's political, economic, or knowledge base and operate society’s leading business models. These frameworks help them to maintain power and influence over institutions. National or local political leaders are naturally part of business elite models. By and large, elites and their businesses are essential for value creation and economic growth. EQx lead-authors Dr. Tomas Casas and Dr. Guido Cozzi from the University of St.Gallen described high-quality elites as those who can increase or grow the size of an economic pie and low-quality elites as those who use their power to grow their own slice at the cost of others. 

EQx2024 reflects the continued extraction of inflation, challenges to global trade and cooperation and war in Europe and the Middle East. It reveals a picture of a country’s overall sustainable value creation and prospects for future growth. The research, led by University of St.Gallen (HSG) along with international academic partners and the St.Gallen-based Foundation for Value Creation, provides for insight not only in the current stability of nations but also for their future growth potential. Some of the results from EQx 2024 include:

The #1 position goes to Singapore 

The small city-state moves back to the top of the ranking again after losing out to Switzerland last year. These are two very different political economies whose chief similarity, besides their small size, is their significant sustainable value creation of their elite business models. Rounding out the top five are the Netherlands, Japan and New Zealand.

The United Kingdom falls out of the top ten

The UK dropped out of the top ten in this year’s ranking, coming in at #11. One major area of concern is UK universities, which have dropped in global rankings, which raises competitiveness concerns. There is also evidence showing that since Brexit, the island nation has been losing ground in global rankings and is failing to attract foreign investment.

The USA and China both see improvement 

The USA saw an improvement moving up 5 spots in this year’s ranking to #16. China also moved up one place to #21. While the US still creates enormous value from financial markets and AI, the Americans still struggle with preserving a dynamic future-oriented economy without leaving a large part of society behind. China, on the other hand, with a target by economic policy makers to see its GDP per capita double in the next two decades, sees an elite system that is verifiably better than other countries with a similar GDP per capitas.

Switzerland needs new value creation 

Still benefiting from a formidable elite system, the Alpine nation slipped one position to #2. Experiencing some fallout of the integration of Credit Suisse and UBS, it would be well advised for Swiss elites to invest in new sources of value creation, while maintaining their overall core strengths.

Germany lacks creativity 

Keeping its spot at #8, Germany is still a nation with some of the best institutions in the world as seen in the high power sub-index rank. The country, by and large, has an elite class that does not extract from their society, however, it lacks imagination and does not create sufficient new value for society either.

Asia’s elite quality is on the rise

Of the top six leading countries, three are Asian, with Japan (#4) and Korea (#6) exhibiting a strong performance. Moreover, the continent’s two emerging superpowers, China (# 21, up 1 position) and India (# 63, down 4 places), continue to excel given their income levels. If elites matter, the future belongs to Asia.

Data available on interactive website 

All of the data from EQx2024, is available online in an interactive and user-friendly website. Countries can be compared to one another and users can look at the individual categories to see a nations strengths and weaknesses. “With this platform, students, journalists and the general public can better understand the role that elites play in our given societies,” said Casas and Cozzi.

The academic paper can be found at More information also at

Image: Adobe Stock / fotochrist

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