2007-08 John Kenneth Galbraith Lecture in Public Policy
Small Country, Big Results: The Case of Iceland
Tuesday, April 15th,
Mr. Geir Haarde, Prime Minister of Iceland
Inco Innovation Centre Lecture Theatre
Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL
This session was webcast "live". Click here to view the lecture.
The Icelandic people currently enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. Iceland ranks number one on the Transparency International Index measuring the level of corruption. It ranks seventh on the IMD World Competitiveness Index, fourteenth on the Heritage Foundation Global Economic Freedom Index, is one of the most active economies for new businesses according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor and topped the 2007 list of the UN Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, literacy, education, standard of living and GDP per capita for countries worldwide. Various international surveys attest that Icelandic businesses operate in one of the most competitive and free business environments in Europe.
All these indicators point to a robust economy that supports a thriving population. The economy is highly advanced, wealthy, strong and flexible, and has noticeable characteristics that should be the envy of many Western countries, namely favorable demographics, a fully-funded pension system, strong government finances with hardly any government net debt, and proven economic flexibility. How did Iceland become such a success? Did the energetic, free and entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes both the working population and the business community have anything to do with it?