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The Worrying Decline of Freedom Around the World

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The 20th century was a bull market for literacy, freedom, prosperity, health, and technology.

As a result of these gains, wealth has increased exponentially, and world poverty is now at all-time lows. Life expectancy continues to improve in most countries, global literacy is near 90%, and there are well over 100 democracies throughout the planet.

But not every positive trend can keep going forever. Sometimes things regress temporarily, only to be corrected later on. Other times things change more fundamentally – and that regression can be the beginning of a newer, long-term reality.

The Decline of Freedom: An 11-Year Trend

According to the Freedom in the World 2017 Report, which scores countries annually on various levels of freedom, there have been recent setbacks in political rights and civil liberties in a number of “Free” countries. These newest declines are partially the result of populist and nationalist forces making significant gains in democratic states.

But Freedom House, the international watchdog organization that produces the annual report, says that this is not an isolated occurrence. In fact, based on their data and methodology, freedom has actually declined on a global basis for the last 11 years.

Here are the aggregate gains and declines in freedom for each year – you can see that declines have been outweighing gains since 2006.

11 Years of Decline

The Decline of Freedom Over the Last 10 Years

While the trend is clear, the most worrying part is that the biggest aggregate declines happened in the two most recent years. Is that a coincidence, or is the decline of freedom accelerating?

Here are the specific countries that have had the biggest declines in freedom over the last decade:

Largest Aggregate Declines Over the Last Decade

The Decline of Freedom Over the Last 10 Years

Countries like Yemen and Ethiopia, which are classified as “Not Free”, have lost further freedom. However, “Free” countries like Hungary or Nauru also lost 10 or more points in the index.

2016: Another Year of Setbacks

The biggest mover in 2016 was Turkey, a country that the Washington Post says is in a “permanent state of crisis”.

A failed coup attempt, the assassination of a Russian ambassador, trouble in bordering Syria, and economic crises have accelerated the march to authoritarianism in the country – and it’s had a 15-point decline of freedom as a result, according to Freedom House.

Biggest Movers in 2016

The Decline of Freedom Over the Last 10 Years

Hungary and Poland are among the Western democracies that lost significant points in 2016, but the report also has its crosshairs on the United States for 2017. It notes the U.S. as a “country to watch” this year because of the Trump administration’s approach to civil liberties, as well as a potential redefinition of the United States’ role in the world.

Here are where things stand as of now:

Map: World Freedom in 2017

Freedom in the World in 2017 by Aggregate Score

For the whole report, which is a highly-recommended read, go here.

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Economy

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

The world’s most innovative companies want to get the best talent at any cost. See whether their home countries are helping or hurting their odds.

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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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Demographics

The Crime Rate Perception Gap

There’s a persistent belief across America that crime is on the rise. This graphic amalgamates crime rate data from the FBI to show a very different reality.

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crime perceptions

The Crime Rate Perception Gap

There’s a persistent belief across America that crime is on the rise.

Since the late 1980s, Gallup has been polling people on their perception of crime in the United States, and consistently, the majority of respondents indicate that they see crime as becoming more prevalent. As well, a recent poll showed that more than two-thirds of Americans feel that today’s youth are less safe from crime and harm than the previous generation.

Even the highest ranking members of the government have been suggesting that the country is in the throes of a crime wave.

We have a crime problem. […] this is a dangerous permanent trend that places the health and safety of the American people at risk.

— Jeff Sessions, Former Attorney General

Is crime actually more prevalent in society? Today’s graphic, amalgamating crime rate data from the FBI, shows a very different reality.

Data vs Perception

In the early ’90s, crime in the U.S. was an undeniable concern – particularly in struggling urban centers. The country’s murder rate was nearly double what it is today, and statistics for all types of crime were through the roof.

Since that era, crime rates in the United States have undergone a remarkably steady decline, but public perception has been slow to catch up. In a 2016 survey, 57% of registered voters said crime in the U.S. had gotten worse since 2008, despite crime rates declining by double-digit percentages during that time period.

There are many theories as to why crime rates took such a dramatic U-turn, and while that matter is still a subject for debate, there’s clear data on who is and isn’t being arrested.

Are Millennials Killing Crime?

Media outlets have accused millennials of the killing off everything from department stores to commuting by car, but there’s another behavior this generation is eschewing as well – criminality.

Compared to previous generations, people under the age of 39 are simply being arrested in smaller numbers. In fact, much of the decline in overall crime can be attributed to people in this younger age bracket. In contrast, the arrest rate for older Americans actually rose slightly.

Arrests by Age Group

There’s no telling whether the overall trend will continue.

In fact, the most recent data shows that the murder rate has ticked up ever-so-slightly in recent years, while violent and property crimes continue to be on the decline.

A Global Perspective

Perceptions of increasing criminality are echoed in many other developed economies as well. From Italy to South Korea, the prevailing sentiment is that youth are living in a society that is less safe than in previous generations.

global crime perceptions

As the poll above demonstrates, perception gaps exist in somewhat unexpected places.

In Sweden, where violent crime is actually increasing, 53% of people believe that crime will be worse for today’s youth. Contrast that with Australia, where crime rates have declined in a similar pattern as in the United States – yet, more than two-thirds of Aussie respondents believe that crime will be worse for today’s youth.

One significant counterpoint to this trend is China, where respondents felt that crime was less severe today than in the past.

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