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The Quality of Nationality Index — A Tool to Navigate the Shifting Nationality Landscape

13 September 2017

Nationality is not as fixed a concept as one might think. Panta rhei — a Greek phrase credited to Heraclitus and interpreted as ‘everything changes’ — summarises the concept that nothing remains still; indeed, in the context of today’s developments in global mobility, economic unions and the growing popularity of right-wing sentiments, the nationality landscape is morphing accordingly, shaping the lives of citizens around the world in unique, and sometimes unexpected, ways.

Irrespective of race, gender, economic status, and birth or current location, each one of us is directly affected by our nationality. Larger than the physical boundaries of its corresponding country, nationality is an entity that defines the scope of movement freedom and the global political, economic and business landscape, and as such, is a valuable resource. The more opportunities a state is able to offer its nationals through wealth, security, schooling, healthcare and peace, the higher the value of its nationality; conversely, the fewer opportunities there are, the lower the value. The extremes are well known: a child in Angola is 78.5 times more likely not to survive the first five years of life than a child in Finland or Luxembourg; and Afghans and Sri Lankans are significantly less likely to experience London, Los Angeles or Tokyo than, for example, Austrians and Australians.

However, echoing the sentiments of Albert Einstein: “Remember your humanity and forget the rest,” we should be defined by our humanity and not our nationality, and the freedom to embrace global citizenship and define one’s own future is the basic premise of citizenship-by-investment. The Henley & Partners – Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index (QNI) is a unique, transparent and scientific measurement tool, created by Henley & Partners in partnership with Prof. Dr. Dimitry Kochenov, to analyse the quality of the world’s different nationalities so that global citizens can select the most valuable second nationality for themselves and their families.

Before the launch of the QNI in 2015, no single, credible source ranked the nationalities of the world. Updated annually to ensure a current picture of the quality of world nationalities, the QNI enables objective comparison and assessment of which passports are, quite simply, better than others.

The QNI uses a wide variety of quantifiable data to determine the opportunities and limitations that our nationalities impose on us. To achieve this, it measures both the internal value of nationality — the quality of life and opportunities for personal growth within a nationality’s country of origin — and the external value of nationality — which identifies the diversity and quality of opportunities that nationalities allow us to pursue outside our country of origin.

The internal value of nationalities is based on three sub-elements: the Economic Strength of the country granting nationality in terms of its GDP as published by the World Bank; its level of basic Human Development expressed by the UN Development Programme Human Development Index; and its level of Peace and Stability according to the Global Peace Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The external value of nationalities represents the extent to which holders of a particular nationality can genuinely enjoy the benefits of a globalized world and an increasingly transnational life. To determine this, four sub-elements are considered: the Diversity and Weight of Settlement Freedom, and the Diversity and Weight of Travel Freedom.

The 2016 edition of the QNI — which represents the status quo as on 10 October 2016 — reflects the quality of over 150 nationalities. It also includes a number of new nationality and status entries, such as Israeli Laissez-passer, South Sudan, and eight British nationalities/statuses. The methodology has also been updated to include territories such as Dutch and French overseas territories, US territories, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands as settlement destinations.

The index also discusses the quality of post ‘hard Brexit’ British nationality, comparing this against its current status. Currently, British citizens are citizens of the EU; however, depending on the outcome of negotiations between the two nationalities, this may change.

Key Findings in 2016

  • All nationalities assessed in the QNI recorded some change: 45 lost value while 140 gained value, 59 more than in 2015
  • Germany ranks as the top nationality while Afghanistan has the poorest quality ranking of all nationalities
  • A total of 28 nationalities have a value of Extremely High Quality. All of them are European states. Passport holders from all EU member states enjoy an unprecedented external value for their nationalities
  • The nationalities with Very High Quality remained stable, with the exception of three nationalities — which previously belonged to the High Quality tier — joining this elite category, namely: Brazilian, Monégasque and Sanmarinese nationalities
  •  As many as 17 nationalities that previously belonged to the Medium Quality tier have improved in value and are now classified as High Quality nationalities
  • Finally, the Medium Quality tier includes eight nationalities that belonged to the Poor Quality tier in the previous year, namely: Comoros, Angola, Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Palestinian Territory, Cameroon and Myanmar

The seven nationalities that gained the most significant value in rank are: Timor-Leste, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Colombia. Most of these nationalities benefitted from strong improvement of their Travel Freedom value in 2016 mainly due to the introduction of visa-free travel to the Schengen countries in 2015. Nationalities showing the greatest drops in value include: Senegal, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Liberia, Mali, Kosovo, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

The reality that the QNI describes is in many respects regrettable: in the majority of circumstances, our nationality plays an important role in establishing a highly irrational ceiling for our opportunities and aspirations, reflecting the core concept of being a national of just one particular place. It is a random consequence of birth boasting no correlation with a person’s achievements, ideas, feelings and desires — ‘a birthright lottery’ in the memorable phrase of Ayelet Shachar. This is something that the designers of the index do not endorse, but observe as part of the day-to-day reality that the index aims to document.

Even so, the QNI provides an empowering perspective that serves to help individuals in the important decisions they must make regarding where to live and raise a family, do business, and enjoy a satisfying global lifestyle — to define their future.