A new index unveiled in Zurich this June is the first to ever objectively rank the quality of nationalities worldwide. The Henley & Partners – Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index (QNI) explores both internal factors (such as the scale of the economy, human development, and peace and stability) and external factors (including visa-free travel and the ability to settle and work abroad without cumbersome formalities) that make one nationality better than another in terms of legal status in which to develop your talents and business.
The QNI consistently ranks the German nationality the highest in the world over the last five years with a score of 83.1%. The nationality of the Democratic Republic of Congo sits at the bottom of the index on 14.3%.
Dimitry Kochenov, a leading constitutional law professor with a long-standing interest in European and comparative citizenship law, says the key premise of the index is that it’s possible to compare the relative worth of nationalities – as opposed to, simply, countries. "Everyone has a nationality of one or more states. States differ to a great degree – Russia is huge – Swaziland is small; Luxembourg is rich – Mongolia is less so. Just as with the states, the nationalities themselves differ too. Importantly, there is no direct correlation between the power of the state and the quality of its nationality. Nationality plays a significant part in determining our opportunities and aspirations, and the QNI allows us, for the first time, to analyse this objectively."
A unique measurement tool
The QNI is not a perception index. It uses an array of objective sources to gauge the opportunities and limitations that each nationality gives its owners. Data from the World Bank, the International Air Transport Association, the Institute for Economics and Peace and our own research blends into this unique, objective and transparent measurement tool that divides the nationalities of the world into four tiers based on quality, from Very High to Low, giving a clear picture of the standing of each nationality at a glance. Christian H. Kälin, a leading specialist on international immigration and citizenship law and policy, and Chairman of Henley & Partners, says the QNI is relevant to both individuals interested in the mobility, the possibilities and the limitations of their nationality, and governments focused on improving the local, regional and global opportunities inherent in their passports.
Kälin states: “What makes the QNI so unique is that for the first time ever, we have combined the internal and external values of each nationality to create a true perspective of our globalized world. It is clearly better to have a nationality of a country with long life expectancy, good schooling and high prosperity – like Australia – than of a country which offers lower levels of security, schooling and healthcare to its nationals – like Ukraine.” This is what the QNI shows, and Kälin adds: “It is better to have a nationality with the rights to work and reside in several countries, like the Netherlands, with work and residence rights throughout the EU, rather than, say, Japan, which, although equally prosperous, does not offer its nationals any rights at all outside their own borders. It is also better to have a nationality of a peaceful and stable country, like Denmark, rather than of a country with security risks, like Venezuela.”
What is measured and how?
To calculate the internal value of each nationality, which comprises 40% of the score, the QNI takes into account three sub-elements:
- The economic strength of the country, measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP): 15%
- The scale of human development, as expressed by the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI): 15%
- The level of peace and stability, according to the Global Peace Index (GPI): 10%
- The external value of nationality accounts for 60% of the ranking score. “The more you are restrained by national borders, the less the value of your nationality; the less noticeable the borders, the higher the value. While many opt for a life at home, an increasing number of people want to build a new life somewhere else or live their lives transnationally”, explains Kälin. There are four sub-elements:
- The diversity of settlement freedom: 15%
- The weight of settlement freedom: 15%
- The diversity of travel freedom: 15%
- The weight of travel freedom: 15%
Kochenov adds that it’s the first time that the diversity of settlement freedom provided by a nationality has been quantified and measured. “As no analogous source exists on global settlement freedom, the QNI provides the first and only such source worldwide. We gathered data through extensive research as well as consultation with countless experts on the legal requirements of settlement throughout the world, using IATA data as the starting point. For instance, the Liechtenstein nationality, although conferred by a tiny country, gives its bearers full access to all of the EU, the European Economic Area and Switzerland, a total of 31 countries, enjoying all the key rights which the bearers of the local nationalities enjoy. Compare this with Canadian nationality – which is associated with no such extra-territorial rights at all - and the difference becomes clear,” explains Kochenov.
“When assessing the external value of nationalities, it is important to take into account both diversity and weight. Diversity refers to the sheer number of countries accessible visa-free, while weight accounts for the quality of such countries. This allows the QNI to escape the simplifications of other indexes, valuing visa-free travel to the US as equal to visa-free access to Kiribati. While being able to travel to Kiribati is great, the empowering potential of accessing the US is infinitely higher,” says Kochenov.
Regional and Country Results
Europe and North America outperform the QNI’s global mean of 38.7% by a wide margin, with means of 62.8% and 58.1% respectively. The EU nationalities derive particular value from their unmatched Settlement Freedom, thereby boosting the continent’s Overall Value
Within the EU, the older EU Member States’ nationalities have very stable levels of quality. Newer Member States – particularly Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia – have greatly benefitted from EU integration and are likely to continue to improve
The nationalities of the US and Canada benefit primarily from very strong Internal Value and spectacular visa-free travel, but lie in the lower ranks of the Very High quality nationalities along with countries like Japan, Singapore and South Korea which cannot compete with the superb Settlement Freedom of EU nationalities, but perform well in all other aspects
South American nationalities have experienced a substantial increase in value due to significant progress made in the area of Settlement Freedom and the mutual gradual removal of the barriers related to settlement and work
None of the nationalities of the former Soviet Union are of Very High value and while the Russian nationality experiences a gradual increase in quality due to the constant conclusion of new visa-free agreements, the recent shift in Russian policy vis-à-vis the nationalities of the Commonwealth of Independent States makes it more difficult for CIS nationals to settle in Russia, and explains a general decrease in the quality of nationalities with important ties to Moscow
Destabilization in North Africa and the Middle East has adversely affected the quality of the nationalities in these regions. Libya, Bahrain and Oman experienced major blows to the value of their nationalities, and Syria has, unsurprisingly, been in free fall
Central America and the Caribbean generally score lower on the majority of sub-elements and the lack of significant Settlement Freedom prevents even the top-ranked nationalities from matching the European, North American and some of the East Asian nationalities
The Asian and Pacific regions sit quite far below the global mean. However, Asian nationalities occupy positions across the entire spectrum of the QNI, from the Very High Quality tier (for example Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore) to Low Quality (Myanmar, Pakistan, and Afghanistan)
Kälin says The Henley & Partners – Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index, now covering the five years between 2011 and 2015, will be updated annually to ensure a current picture of the quality of world nationalities is readily available at any moment in time, illuminating medium to long-term trends in nationalities' development. He adds: "The QNI is a vital resource for financially independent individuals who wish to acquire the benefits of dual citizenship, as it provides assistance in selecting the most valuable second nationality for themselves and their families."
To visit the Quality of Nationality Index (QNI) website and see how the nationalities you are most interested in score in the ranking follow this link.