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Which Countries Are Set to Attract the Highest Skilled Workers from Abroad?

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For the world’s most innovative companies, the stated goal of attracting top talent is not simply an HR mantra – it’s a matter of survival.

Whether we’re talking about a giant like Google that is constantly searching to add world-class engineers or we’re talking about a startup that needs a visionary to shape products of the future, innovative companies require access to high-skilled workers to stay ahead of their competition.

The Global Search for Talent

There’s no doubt that top companies will go out of their way to bring in highly-skilled workers, even if they must look internationally to find the best of the best.

However, part of this recruitment process is not necessarily under their control. The reality is that countries themselves have different policies that affect how easy it is to attract people, educate and develop them, and retain the best workers – and these factors can either empower or undermine talent recruitment efforts.

Today’s infographic comes from KDM Engineering, and it breaks down the top 25 countries in attracting high-skilled workers.

Which Countries Are Set to Attract the Highest Skilled Workers from Abroad?

If attracting the best people isn’t hard enough, there is another factor that can complicate things: the best people are sometimes not found locally or even nationally.

For top companies, recruitment is a global game – and it’s partially driven by the policies of governments as well as the quality of life within their countries’ borders.

Top Countries for Attracting High-Skilled Workers

Using data from the United Nations and the Global Talent Competitive Index, here are the top 10 countries that are the best at attracting and retaining highly-skilled workers.

They are ordered by overall rank, but their sub-category ranks are also displayed:

Overall RankCountryEnableAttractGrowRetainMigrants
#1🇨🇭 Switzerland#2#5#5#12,438,702
#2🇸🇬 Singapore#1#1#13#72,543,638
#3🇬🇧 United Kingdom#8#11#7#58,543,120
#4🇺🇸 United States#11#16#2#846,627,102
#5🇸🇪 Sweden#9#13#8#41,639,771
#6🇦🇺 Australia#17#6#9#146,763,663
#7🇱🇺 Luxembourg#21#2#17#3249,325
#8🇩🇰 Denmark#3#15#3#15572,520
#9🇫🇮 Finland#6#21#4#9315,881
#10🇳🇴 Norway#13#14#10#2741,813

The subcategory ranks are defined as follows:

  • Enable: Status of regulatory and market landscapes in country
  • Attract: Ability to attract companies and people with needed competencies
  • Grow: Ability to offer high-quality education, apprenticeships, and training
  • Retain: Indicates quality of life in country

According to the data, Switzerland (#1) and Singapore (#2) are the two best countries for attaining and keeping high-skilled workers.

While the regulatory environments in both of these countries are well-known by reputation, perhaps what’s more surprising is that Singapore scores the #1 rank in the “Attract” subcategory, while Switzerland is the #1 country for retaining talent based on quality of life.

Another data point that stands out?

The United States has a higher total migrant population (46.6 million) than all of the countries on the top 10 list combined. Not surprisingly, the massive U.S. economy also has a high ranking in the “Grow” category, which represents available opportunities to bring high-skilled workers to the next level through education and training.

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Chart of the Week

Which Countries Are the Biggest Boost or Drag on the EU Budget?

As Brexit looms, the EU budget is under the microscope. Learn which countries contribute the most—and least—to the bottom line in this chart.

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Which Countries Are the Biggest Boost or Drag on the EU Budget?

With 28 countries and over €15.8 trillion in 2018 GDP (PPP) to its name, there’s no doubt the European Union (EU) is highly influential in economics and politics. The “superpower” tackles a wide range of issues from climate change and health to external relations, justice, and migration.

Of course, the money required to address these concerns must come from somewhere—and that’s where the EU’s budget comes in. Each member state contributes revenue, but it’s been argued that not everyone is pulling their weight.

Today’s chart is based on budget data from the European Commission, and ranks the member states who contributed the most, and least, to the 2018 EU budget. Specifically, we’ve charted the net contributions—measured as the country’s total contribution less expenditures—on an absolute and per capita basis. We also break down the EU’s main revenue sources and areas of expenditure for the year.

An Unequal Share

Perhaps not surprisingly, Germany and the UK are the top 2 net contributors in absolute terms. Combined, these two powerhouses had a GDP (PPP) of over €5 trillion in 2018.

At the other end of the scale, Poland tops the list of net beneficiaries with a deficit of -€11,632 million—more than double that of second-place Hungary. In the wake of the European sovereign debt crisis, Greece and Portugal slide into fourth and fifth place respectively.

When population is taken into account, these rankings shift dramatically. Per capita, the Netherlands tops the list with €284 contributed per resident, whereas Luxembourg lands in last place with a deficit of -€2,710. The small country is home to many EU institutions, resulting in high administrative spending: in 2018, administration amounted to 80% of total expenditures.

Here’s a full ranking of the 28 member states, in both absolute (€M) and per capita (€ per resident) terms:

RankMember StateAbsolute net contribution (€M)Member StatePer capita net
contribution (€ per resident)
#1🇩🇪 Germany€17,213M🇳🇱 Netherlands€284
#2🇬🇧 United Kingdom€9,770M🇩🇰 Denmark€254
#3🇫🇷 France€7,442M🇬🇧 Germany€208
#4🇮🇹 Italy€6,695M🇸🇪 Sweden€196
#5🇳🇱 Netherlands€4,877M🇦🇹 Austria€174
#6🇸🇪 Sweden€1,983M🇬🇧 United Kingdom€147
#7🇦🇹 Austria€1,534M🇫🇮 Finland€123
#8🇩🇰 Denmark€1,468M🇮🇪 Ireland€112
#9🇫🇮 Finland€679M🇫🇷 France€111
#10🇮🇪 Ireland€542M🇮🇹 Italy€111
#11🇲🇹 Malta-€41M🇪🇸 Spain-€9
#12🇨🇾 Cyprus-€61M🇨🇾 Cyprus-€70
#13🇪🇸 Spain-€42M8🇲🇹 Malta-€85
#14🇸🇮 Slovenia-€471M🇭🇷 Croatia-€154
#15🇪🇪 Estonia-€516M🇷🇴 Romania-€155
#16🇭🇷 Croatia-€633M🇨🇿 Czech Republic-€201
#17🇱🇻 Latvia-€93M5🇧🇬 Bulgaria-€225
#18🇧🇬 Bulgaria-€1,585M🇧🇪 Belgium-€227
#19🇸🇰 Slovakia-€1,600M🇸🇮 Slovenia-€228
#20🇱🇹 Lithuania-€1,624M🇸🇰 Slovakia-€294
#21🇱🇺 Luxembourg-€1,631M🇬🇷 Greece-€298
#22🇨🇿 Czech Republic-€2,136M🇵🇹 Portugal-€305
#23🇧🇪 Belgium-€2,590M🇵🇱 Poland-€306
#24🇷🇴 Romania-€3,035M🇪🇪 Estonia-€391
#25🇵🇹 Portugal-€3,136M🇱🇻 Latvia-€483
#26🇬🇷 Greece-€3,202M🇭🇺 Hungary-€514
#27🇭🇺 Hungary-€5,029M🇱🇹 Lithuania-€578
#28🇵🇱 Poland-€11,632M🇱🇺 Luxembourg-€2,710

It’s easy to see what the net beneficiaries might gain from the EU—but what about the top net contributors? Beyond straight budgetary allocations, member states have access to a single open market, and benefit from the political clout of 28 united countries, among other perks.

Following the Money

So, how does the EU collect its revenue, and what does it spend its money on? Revenue is broken down into four main categories:

  1. Value Added Tax (VAT)-Based Own Resource (2018 total: €17,600M)

    Member states pay based on how much they receive in VAT. The VAT “base” is capped at 50% of a country’s Gross National Income (GNI), and a standard levy of 0.3% applies. Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden benefit from a reduced rate of 0.15% in an effort to re-balance their excessive contributions.

  2. Gross National Income (GNI)-Based Own Resource (2018 total: €105,800M)

    Calculated as the difference between total expenditure and the sum of all other revenue, this revenue stream is the amount needed to balance the EU budget. The EU applies a standard percentage across member states, with Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden receiving a lump sum reduction in 2018.

  3. Traditional Own Resources (2018 total: €20,200M)

    Member states collect customs duties and sugar levies, which goes directly towards the EU budget after the country deducts a 20% collection cost.

  4. Other Revenue (2018 total: €15,700M)

    This consists of various items including taxes on EU workers’ salaries, interest on late payments and fines, and contributions from non-EU countries to research programs.

Revenue might also include a budget surplus from the previous year, or net adjustments made to previous years’ financials. On the other side of the budget, the EU has a wide variety of expenditures, broken down into six main categories:

  1. Smart and Inclusive Growth (2018 total: €75,900M)

    This category focuses on boosting growth, creating jobs, and fostering economic and social cohesion through training, education, research, and social policy.

  2. Sustainable Growth: Natural Resources (2018 total: €58,000M)

    The EU allocates funding for the sustainable growth of agriculture, rural development, and fisheries. It also finances programs dedicated to climate action.

  3. Security and Citizenship (2018 total: €3,100M)

    Focused on the safety and rights of its citizens, this budget line item encompasses everything from migration and border protection to food safety and consumer protection.

  4. Global Europe (2018 total: €9,500M)

    This covers all foreign policy, including international development and humanitarian aid.

  5. Administration (2018 total: €9,900M)

    The expenditures of all EU institutions are captured under this heading, including staff salaries, building rent, information technology and training.

  6. Special Instruments (2018 total: €200M)

    This area enables the EU to mobilize funds for unforeseen events, such as natural disasters and major world trade patterns that displace workers.

The 2018 budget resulted in a surplus of two billion Euros, but will it be balanced in future years?

The 2020 Budget and Beyond

The EU’s current budgetary framework ends in 2020. A proposal for the 2021–2027 budget has already been set forth, and council meetings are ongoing.

With Brexit’s twice-postponed deadline looming, the UK’s departure will leave a “sizable gap” in the EU budget. This could leave member states scrambling to find additional revenue sources and ways to reduce expenditures.

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Cities

Ranked: The Megaregions Driving the Global Economy

Today’s stunning map ranks the world’s most powerful megaregions — together, they contribute a whopping $28 trillion to the global economy.

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Ranked: The Megaregions Driving the Global Economy

If you’ve ever flown cross-country in a window seat, chances are, the bright lights at night have caught your eye. From above, the world tells its own story—as concentrated pockets of bright light keep the world’s economy thriving.

Today’s visualization relies on data compiled by CityLab researchers to identify the world’s largest megaregions. The team defines megaregions as:

  • Areas of continuous light, based on the latest night satellite imagery
  • Capturing metro areas or networks of metro areas, with a combined population of 5 million or higher
  • Generating economic output (GDP) of over $300 billion, on a PPP basis

The satellite imagery comes from the NOAA, while the base data for economic output is calculated from Oxford Economics via Brookings’ Global Metro Monitor 2018.

It’s worth pointing out that each megaregion may not be connected by specific trade relationships. Rather, satellite data highlights the proximity between these rough but useful regional estimates contributing to the global economy—and supercities are at the heart of it.

From Megalopolis to Megaregion

Throughout history, academics have described vast, interlinked urban regions as a ‘megalopolis’, or ‘megapolis’. Economic geographer Jean Gottman popularized the Greek term, referring to the booming and unprecedented urbanization in Bos-Wash—the northeast stretch from Boston and New York down to Washington, D.C.:

This region has indeed a “personality” of its own […] Every city in this region spreads out far and wide around its original nucleus.

Gottmann, Megalopolis (1961)

By looking at adjacent metropolitan areas rather than country-level data, it can help provide an entirely new perspective on the global distribution of economic activity.

Where in the world are the most powerful urban economic clusters today?

The Largest Megaregions Today

The world’s economy is a sum of its parts. Each megaregion contributes significantly to the global growth engine, but arguably, certain areas pull more weight than others.

MegaregionCitiesRegionPopulationEconomic Output (EO)EO per Capita
Total602.2M$28,135B$46,720
1. Bos-WashNew York, Washington, D.C., BostonNorth America 47.6M$3,650B$76,681
2. Par-Am-MunParis, Amsterdam, Brussels, MunichEurope43.5M$2,505B$57,586
3. Chi-PittsChicago, Detroit, Cleveland, PittsburghNorth America32.9M$2,130B$64,742
4. Greater TokyoTokyoAsia39.1M$1,800B$46,036
5. SoCalLos Angeles, San DiegoNorth America22M$1,424B$64,727
6. Seoul-SanSeoul, BusanAsia35.5M$1,325B$37,324
7. Texas TriangleDallas, Houston, San Antonio, AustinNorth America18.4M$1,227B$66,685
8. BeijingBeijing, TianjinAsia37.4M$1,226B$32,781
9. Lon-Leed-ChesterLondon, Leeds, ManchesterEurope22.6M$1,177B$52,080
10. Hong-ShenHong Kong, ShenzhenAsia19.5M$1,043B$53,487
11. NorCalSan Francisco, San JoseNorth America 10.8M$925B$85,648
12. ShanghaiShanghai, HangzhouAsia 24.2M$892B$36,860
13. TaipeiTaipeiAsia16.7M$827B$49,521
14. São PaoloSão PaoloSouth America33.5M$780B$23,284
15. Char-LantaCharlotte, AtlantaNorth America 10.5M$656B$62,476
16. CascadiaSeattle, PortlandNorth America8.8M$627B$71,250
17. Ista-BursIstanbul, BursaMENA14.8M$626B$42,297
18. Vienna-BudapestVienna, BudapestEurope12.8M$555B$43,359
19. Mexico CityMexico CityNorth America24.5M$524B$21,388
20. Rome-Mil-TurRome, Milan, TurinEurope13.8M$513B$37,174
21. Singa-LumpurSingapore, Kuala LumpurAsia12.7M$493B$38,819
22. Cairo-AvivCairo, Tel AvivMENA19.8M$472B$23,838
23. So-FloMiami, TampaNorth America 9.1M$470B$51,648
24. Abu-DubaiAbu Dhabi, DubaiMENA5M$431B$86,200
25. Osaka-Nagoya (tied)Osaka, NagoyaAsia9.1M$424B$46,593
25. Tor-Buff-Chester (tied)Toronto, Buffalo, RochesterNorth America8.5M$424B$49,882
27. Delhi-LahoreNew Delhi, LahoreAsia27.9M$417B$14,946
28. Barcelona-LyonBarcelona, LyonEurope7M$323B$46,143
29. ShandongJinan, Zibo, DongyingAsia14.2M$249B$17,535

Altogether, these powerhouses bring in over $28 trillion in economic output.

Unsurprisingly, Bos-Wash reigns supreme even today, with $3.6 trillion in economic output, over 13% of the total. The corridor hosts some of the highest-paying sectors: information technology, finance, and professional services.

The largest city in Brazil, São Paulo, is the only city in the Southern Hemisphere to make the list. The city was once heavily reliant on manufacturing and trade, but the $780 billion city economy is now embracing its role as a nascent financial hub.

On the other side of the world, the cluster of Asian megaregions combines for $8.7 trillion in total economic output. Of these, Greater Tokyo in Japan is the largest, while Shandong might be a name that fewer people are familiar with. Sandwiched between Beijing and Shanghai, the coastal province houses multiple high-tech industrial and export processing zones.

The data is even more interesting when broken down into economic output per capita—Abu-Dubai churns out an impressive $86,200 per person. Meanwhile, Delhi-Lahore is lowest on the per-capita list, at $14,946 per person across nearly 28 million people.

Where To Next?

This trend shows no sign of slowing down, as megacities are on the rise in the coming decade. Eventually, more Indian and African megaregions will make its way onto this list, led by cities like Lagos and Chennai.

Stay tuned to Visual Capitalist for a North America-specific outlook coming soon, and a deep dive into the biggest factors contributing to the growth of these megaregions.

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