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The Quality of Nationality Index: Nationalities of the World in 2017

15 May, 2018

In today’s globalized world, the legal status of millions of nationals extends their opportunities and desires far beyond their countries of origin: for these privileged individuals, the confines of the state are simply not the limit of their ambitions and expectations. Global citizenship and migration regulation is moving fast to incorporate this growing trend. The trio of world leaders in this regard are France, the Netherlands, and Finland. These are the most globally integrated citizenships in the world, turning the national borders of roughly one quarter of the world’s states into myths for their holders and, in turn, liberating their citizens from the imaginary geographical limitations that require them to forget about opportunities beyond the borders of ‘their’ state.

Once again, the recently launched 3rd edition of the Henley & Partners – Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index (QNI) offers the global community a credible evaluation of the world’s nationalities. The Index is the only one of its kind that objectively measures and ranks all the world’s nationalities according to the value they provide to those who hold them. Nationalities are ranked on a 0%–100% scale and divided into ‘quality tiers’, ranging from Extremely High Quality to Low Quality. Crucially, the QNI is not a perception index. It uses a wide variety of quantifiable data — including a careful combination of industry-leading metrics, including the Global Peace Index, the Human Development Index, and the Henley Passport Index — to determine the opportunities and limitations that our nationalities impose on us.

The reality that the QNI describes is, in many respects, regrettable. Nationalities such as France, the Netherlands, and Finland remain the exception. In the majority of circumstances, our nationality plays an important role in establishing a highly irrational ceiling for our opportunities and aspirations. This conundrum is in many respects the core aspect of being a national of a particular place, which is a random consequence of birth that boasts no correlation with a person’s achievements, ideas, feelings, and desires — ‘a birthright lottery’, to use Ayelet Shachar’s memorable phrase. The creators of the Index, Prof. Dr. Dimitry Kochenov and Dr. Christian H. Kälin, do not endorse this

phenomenon but rather observe it as part of the day-to-day reality that the Index aims to document.

On the Move

Perhaps one of the most noteworthy moves in this latest edition of the QNI is the shift in France’s quality of nationality from second to first place overall. France takes over the reins from Germany, which was the global leader for the past seven years. The French nationality earned a score of 81.7% out of a possible 100%, while Germany scored 81.6%. The difference between France’s and Germany’s results is fractional; France’s comparative advantage lies in its greater Settlement Freedom, attributable mainly to the country’s former colonial empire.

Following closely behind France and Germany on the QNI are Iceland and Denmark in 3rd place and 4th place, respectively, with scores of 81.5% and 80.9%. In 13th place, the UK narrowly missed the top 10 but made it into the Extremely High Quality tier, with a score of 78.2%. Last year, the UK scored 79.2%. The US increased its position by two ranks this year, claiming the 27th spot on the QNI with a score of 69.4%, up from 68.8%. The country’s relatively poor standing on the Index is mainly due to its low Settlement Freedom compared to EU member states.

Newcomers to the QNI

This edition of the QNI features 14 newcomers. In earlier editions of the QNI, the lack of available data prevented a sufficiently reliable valuation of these nationalities. In this edition, however, we have used new data and estimations in order to include these nationalities in the ranking. Seven of the newcomers — Palau, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu — fall within the High Quality tier. Five of the newcomers — Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Nauru; and North Korea — lie in the Medium Quality tier. Two nationalities — South Sudan and Somalia — enter the General Ranking in the Low Quality tier.

Key Findings in 2017

• All 209 nationalities saw a change in value in this year’s edition of the QNI: 81 lost value, 12 maintained their value, and 103 gained value.

• By way of comparison, only 45 nationalities lost value in last year’s edition, and 140 nationalities gained value. In other words, while the overall global trend remains upward, the number of nationalities gaining value has decreased year-on-year.

• The French nationality stands at the top of the QNI General Ranking, with a score of 81.7%, while the Somalian nationality lies at the bottom, at 13.4%.

• 26 nationalities fall in the Extremely High Quality tier (75.0% and above); 23 nationalities fall in the Very High Quality tier (between 50.0% and 74.9%); 50 nationalities fall in the High Quality tier (between 35.0% and 49.9%); 96 nationalities fall in the Medium Quality tier (between 20.0% and 34.9%); and 14 nationalities fall in the Low Quality tier (below 19.9%).

• Malta and Latvia moved down from Extremely High Quality to Very High Quality; Andorra moved up from High Quality to Very High Quality; Ukraine and Georgia moved up from Medium Quality to High Quality; Qatar moved down from High Quality to Medium Quality; and Djibouti moved up from Low Quality to Medium Quality.

Rise and Fall

The title of ‘top riser’ goes to the Georgian nationality for its spectacular 20-position ascent, from 104th position on last year’s General Ranking to 84th position this year. Georgia’s improved ranking was mainly caused by a significant increase in visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel destinations, linked to its 2017 visa-waiver with the Schengen Area.

The Ukrainian nationality experienced a similar rise, from 99th position in 2016 to 80th position in 2017; Ukrainian citizens also acquired visa-free access to the Schengen Area in 2017. As a result, the Ukrainian nationality recovers towards the positions it occupied in the 2013 and 2014 QNI General Rankings (75th place in 2013, and 79th place in 2014), although the ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine continues to compromise the nationality’s Peace and Stability score.

In 2016, the Emirati nationality made a significant leap forward when its holders received visa-free travel access to the Schengen Area. The nationality of the UAE continued this trend in 2017 with an additional 10 visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel destinations, now boasting 130 such destinations in total and overtaking the Israeli nationality as the best nationality in the region. As a result, it pushes further into the world’s top 50, moving from 49th place in 2016 to 46th place in 2017.

The biggest faller in this year’s Index is the Qatari nationality, which suffered substantially from the country’s diplomatic conflict with Saudi Arabia and its allies. The Gulf states de facto suspended the application of the Gulf Cooperation Council legal framework to Qatar last year, which reduced the value of the Qatari nationality from 37.7% (70th place) to 34.1% (87th place). The Iraqi nationality dropped 15 places, from 150th position (18.6%) to 165th position (15.1%). With Peace and Stability remaining equally poor last year, a large number of countries introduced travel restrictions for Iraqis, which caused the nationality’s Diversity of Travel Freedom to drop from 27 to only nine visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel destinations.

Over the past five years of measurement, the value of the Colombian nationality has improved spectacularly, jumping from 111th place (26.1%) to 61st place (40.7%). While Human Development increased slightly, and Peace and Stability decreased somewhat, Colombian nationals have experienced a major improvement in Travel Freedom. In 2013, they had visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel access to 59 destinations, compared to 112 destinations in 2017, including the countries in the Schengen Area (as of 3 December 2015). The success story of the Colombian nationality over all the years of QNI measurement turns Colombia into the poster child of how to ensure constant improvement in the quality of nationality.

For all its sophistication and scientific rigor, the QNI is simple in its intention: bringing into sharp focus the state of our world and empowering us, global citizens of today, with invaluable insights as we make important decisions about where to establish our businesses and where to live our lives — defining our future.

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