The Global Innovation Index has released its results for 2020, here are the top 30:
Australia sits at 23. With 49 high-income countries on the list, it puts us firmly in the middle of the pack for comparable countries. While a commendable result for a country where commodities are a large percentage of exports, if I were the Federal Government, I would be looking to boost us up at least past Iceland.
More interesting are the apparently counterintuitive ones; the top ten includes Sweden (home of Spotify), Denmark, and Finland. France is twelfth. These are economies known for big government, active unions, and generous welfare states. The same goes for Germany, the Netherlands, and, to a lesser degree, Switzerland. A not uncommon refrain is that the US enjoys extra innovation and dynamism as a result of its small welfare state and limited labour protections (you might be more willing to move cross-country to a new industry if there was no safety net). These statistics suggest the reality may be more complicated.
If you’re interested in the age old debate between the different models of capitalism and the results they get, a good – if a little old – entry point is the Varieties of Capitalism literature. You might also enjoy The Entrepreneurial State.