The UK’s high levels in entrepreneurship, good progress in digitalisation and green credentials, have been given a boost by a new scorecard report authored by University of Bath economist, Professor Maik Schneider.

According to the ‘Elite Quality Report 2021’, which assesses 151 countries against over one hundred measures according to how elites in society create value, the UK is third overall behind only Singapore and Switzerland.

The scorecards are designed to provide a measure of how powerful a country’s political and economic elites are and whether this power is used positively to create wider value for society at large. The scorecard considers numerous factors, from entrepreneurship, to social mobility, health outcomes and the environment.

Economist and author of the UK scorecard report, Professor Maik Schneider from Bath’s Department of Economics explains: “We know that elites, be they business leaders or politicians, play a central role in a country’s success and progress, in value creation and how inclusively these values or rewards can be enjoyed across society. The Elite Quality Index is an effort to measure this and to consider how countries across the world compare.

“The UK overall scores well and, in areas such as digitalisation, entrepreneurship and environmental performance, exceptionally well but that is not to say there are not areas for improvement. For example, despite relatively high levels of social mobility we still find a protected and closed elite based on inherited rather than self-made worth and we also find that wealth remains highly concentrated in the hands of billionaires as a percentage of GDP.”

The Elite Quality Index rests on the idea that elites can positively shape how society functions by setting up businesses, offering work, providing access to education and healthcare, and by protecting the environment. These ‘elite decisions’ can increase a country’s GDP growth and its wealth, whilst also providing a higher quality of life for citizens besides economic growth alone.

Countering a common challenge that it is the elites in society who have caused many of our social, economic, environmental and health problems, including the environmental emergency we all face, Professor Schneider adds: "It is of course true that our elites have played a contributing role in where we are today – significantly in relation to environmental damage and climate change. However, that underlines the importance of looking at elite quality in this way.

"Our index allows a more evidence-based discussion about where elites are performing well, and where there is still room for improvement. This has important implications for all of us in determining who represents us politically and in holding the powerful in society to account.

"The fact that the UK comes top for environmental performance should encourage policy makers to take further bold steps towards sustainable economic growth and a net zero economy. This can provide momentum in taking the global lead in fighting climate change at the COP26 summit in Glasgow this November."