Productivity and income are top
In its “WIFO Competitiveness Radar”, which was published for the first time, the economic research institute examined the strengths and weaknesses of Austria as a business location and not only examined “hard” economic indicators such as GDP, labor productivity, real income or unemployment, but also included target values such as poverty and environmental pollution. Compared with 30 European countries, Austria is just below the top third.
Wifo defines “competitiveness” as “the ability of an economic system to create sustainable high real incomes and to improve social and ecological living conditions while constantly changing and shaping the framework conditions”.
For their findings summarized in the “WIFO Radar of Competitiveness”, the authors Michael Peneder, Angela Köppl, Thomas Leoni, Peter Mayerhofer and Thomas Url compared 24 indicators and used the latest available data, i.e. mostly data from 2019 or 2018. They combined the result into a comparative value: 66.1 percent of all European countries compared had the same or less favorable values than Austria. Three years ago the mean percentile rank would have been 66.7, ten years ago 71.8 percent.
Austria scores particularly well in terms of real income, productivity and regional distribution, with a mean percentile rank of 76.3. In terms of GDP per capita in the non-metropolitan regions, Austria even ranks top (100 percent).
On average for the indicators on the labor market and social living conditions, Austria was only in the middle of the comparison countries with a percentile ranking of 58.9. This value was mainly depressed by the relatively low employment rate (in full-time equivalents) and the relatively high gender gap in the employment rate.
The key figure for the employment rate is mainly depressed by the relatively low labor force participation of older people. The high part-time quota in Austria also has a negative effect. The employment rate of prime-age women adjusted for working hours was around 20 percentage points lower than that of men in 2019. The fact that many people do not wish to work full-time or into old age does not play a role in the assessment.
The low risk-of-poverty rate compared to other European countries, the low youth unemployment rate and a more even distribution of income had positive effects.
In the indicator group on the use of natural resources, Austria achieved a total of 62.3 percent. The high dependency on energy imports and the low proportion of environmental technology patents burden this average, while the relatively high proportion of renewable energy sources and rail freight transport improve the CO2 balance and are therefore rated positively.
In foreign trade, Austria belonged to the top third of the comparison countries with an average rank of 68.8. The best and most stable position was Austria's position in terms of the market share in tourism exports with a percentile rank of 83.8 ahead of the market share in global goods exports (67.7). In terms of the current account balance, Austria was just above the European average.