Second Maastricht globalisation index

Written by  John Ekkelboom Friday, 23 May 2008 00:00

“Our index is unique”

The world is gradually becoming one large village. Countries, regions and people increasingly deal with each other across borders. Naturally, these interactions have consequences for all of us. But what exactly are these consequences, and to what extent do countries take part in globalisation? Scientists are trying to find answers to these questions in various places around the world, by compiling so-called globalisation indices which make it possible to compare countries in different areas.

Globalisation has a different pace around the world. To visualise that process per country, and compare countries in terms of globalisation, Maastricht University’s International Centre for Integrated assessment and Sustainable development (ICIS) has compiled a Maastricht Globalisation Index. According to ICIS director Professor Pim Martens, there are various such indices – but all of them focus on economic development. In contrast, the Maastricht index also takes into account sociocultural factors and the environment.

“Our index is unique,” Martens says. “While most other indices are limited to economic variables, we recognise that globalisation is more than the economy alone. We also include data about sociocultural aspects, such as tourism and migration; about technology, such as telephone connections and internet use; and about the environment, military behaviour and global politics, such as the number of embassies and membership in international organisations. This provides a much broader picture of each country’s level of globalisation.”

Frontrunner

ICIS has collected as much information as possible in these areas on a total of 117 countries. There was too little data on many countries to include them in the index. But these days, Marten says, collecting such information is a great deal easier than it used to be. Much of it can be found on the internet, and various organisations make data available on CD-ROM.

The first Maastricht index dates from 2003, but its successor has recently been completed. Switzerland again appears to be the frontrunner, with Haiti, Madagascar and Rwanda at the bottom of the list. The Netherlands has gone down a place and now ranks fifth. According to Martens, we are doing as well in globalisation as we were five years ago, but we’ve been overtaken by Ireland, with its flourishing economy and increasing migration.

Martens: “Rich countries, like the Netherlands, rank highest in our index: they have many internet connections, the population travels widely, and their economies are thriving. These countries are also more globalised in their interactions with the rest of the world. But scoring highly is not positive in all respects. For example, countries that require a large surface area to maintain their consumption patterns place a higher demand on the earth’s ecosystems and natural resources. So they may be a step higher on the globalisation ladder, but an ecological footprint of such a scale is harmful for the environment.

“Another example is a country’s involvement in international military conflicts. Countries deploying many troops are more interwoven with the rest of the world. You can ask yourself whether this is a good thing or not. Thus, globalisation has negative as well as positive sides. More insight into the question of whether globalisation is something to strive for enables policymakers, for example, to adapt their policies accordingly.”

Cooperation

In recent years Martens has worked closely with other research teams compiling globalisation indices – for example, at Bond University on Australia’s Gold Coast and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich. Together they will publish Measuring globalisation – gauging its consequences this summer. Written for students and academics, the book critically discusses and evaluates the various indices.

Incidentally, Martens’s cooperation with the Swiss was so successful that the Zürich institute has invited him to become a research professor there. “That’s wonderful, of course. They want me to go there for several weeks a year to jointly research globalisation. The Zürich team is more oriented towards technology and the economy, while our focus is on social aspects and the environment. It’s a perfect match.”

The Maastricht Globalisation Index is accessible through http://www.icis.unimaas.nl/publ/Downs/MGI%20ICIS%20WP.pdf It is particularly relevant for policymakers, academics and students. Prof. Martens can be reached on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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