Canada in 2020

CB’s exclusive Prosperity Potential Index ranks developed countries on their ability to create strong economies in the years to come.

The future’s looking bright for Canada, according to Canadian Business‘s exclusive Prosperity Potential Index. In a comparison of the 30 OECD countries, Canada came in at No. 6 in terms of its likelihood of having a strong and healthy economy in the year 2020. This means that if current trends continue, in 11 years Canada will be more prosperous than 24 other OECD countries, and will be one of only two non-European countries (New Zealand is No. 9) to break the Top 10.

We created the Prosperity Potential Index by looking at current OECD data for key factors that indicate the likelihood of a country’s economy growing in the future: trade, energy, technology, education and demographics. For example, a country that has a high level of trade per capita and more exports than imports is likely to do well. Likewise, a country with a large energy supply and a tech-savvy, well-educated population is bound to perform well economically in the years to come. Demographics are also a factor: a young and growing population that isn’t overly burdened by the cost of taking care of the nation’s elders is good for the economy. Canadian Business‘s in-house data guru Phil Froats combined the figures to get an overall rank for the countries’ prosperity potential in the year 2020.

So why did Canada hit No. 6? First off, we were head of the class when it came to education, thanks to our students’ high reading, math and science scores, our high rate of postsecondary education and the amount of money we spend on education. And because of Canada’s wealth of oil and natural gas, we came in at No. 3 in the energy rankings. However, in three other categories, we were in the middle of the pack. We ranked at No. 14 in trade, with a slight trade surplus of 0.9% of GDP. In technology, we came in at No. 16, based on factors such as our amount of patents, money spent on research and our usage of computers and the Internet. We also ranked at No. 16 in the demographic category, held back by the fact that we have relatively low population growth and an aging population.

In the pages that follow, we look at some of these challenges — and opportunities — facing Canada. We start with a piece about the ” Arctic bridge” that could boost trade. For energy, we look at how Canada’s natural gas can boost energy production. For technology, we argue that Canada needs a ” tech czar” to lead development; and for education, we take a look at people who are falling between the cracks of the system. And lastly, for demographics, we discuss the burden our aging population may cause the country. Canadian Business hopes to spark debate and discussion on our future economy, as dialogue around these issues can only help us ensure that our country fulfils its promise of a prosperous future.