The Global Competitiveness Report 2016–2017 is being launched at a time of rising income inequality, mounting social and political tensions, and a general feeling of uncertainty about the future. Growth remains persistently low: commodity prices have fallen, as has trade; external imbalances are increasing; and government finances are stressed. However, it also comes during one of the most prosperous and peaceful times in recorded history, with less disease, poverty, and violent conflict than ever before. Against this backdrop of seeming contradictions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings both unprecedented opportunity and an accelerated speed of change.
Creating the conditions necessary to reignite growth could not be more urgent. The Report this year is the latest edition of the Forum’s longstanding cross-country benchmarking analysis of the factors and institutions that determine long-term growth and prosperity. Incentivizing innovation is especially important for finding new growth engines, but laying the foundations for long-term, sustainable growth requires working on all factors and institutions identified in the Global Competitiveness Index. Leveraging the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will require not only businesses willing and able to innovate, but also sound institutions, both public and private; basic infrastructure, health, and education; macroeconomic stability; and well-functioning labor, financial, and human capital markets.