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FactCheck: Is Ireland actually the world's "most globalised" country?

FactCheck looks into a claim that has been doing the rounds online in recent days.


YOU MAY HAVE seen a chart being shared online over the last week or so, appearing to show Ireland at the very top of a list of the world’s “most globalised” nations.

The chart was produced by the World Economic Forum in an article last week, and has been doing the rounds since.

So is it true?

(Remember, if you see a bold claim about Ireland’s standing in the world, email or tweet @TJ_FactCheck).

Claim: Ireland is the most globalised country in the world

  • That chart was based on the 2015 rankings and its data has been superseded
  • According to the 2016 list, we rank second in the world, behind the Netherlands
  • The rankings always refer to three years previously, so we won’t know where Ireland ranks in 2016, until 2019.

The Facts

The rankings derive from the KOF economic research institute at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university.

Their annual Globalisation Index consists of three main planks – economic, social and political globalisation.

  • They measure economic globalisation based on factors like foreign direct investment (FDI) as a percentage of GDP, trade as a percentage of GDP, as well as trade barriers like tariffs and taxes. It accounts for 36% of the overall Globalisation Index
  • They measure social globalisation based on factors like tourism, foreign population, information flow (rates of internet, TV and newspaper usage), and certain cultural markers like the number of McDonald’s and Ikea outlets per capita. It accounts for 37% of the overall Globalisation Index
  • They measure political globalisation based on factors like each country’s number of embassies, number of international treaties, and membership of international organisations. It makes up 27% of the overall Globalisation Index.

In the 2015 report, Ireland ranked first in the world, but based on data from 2012.

In the 2016 report, Ireland ranked second, behind the Netherlands. Similarly, this was based on data from 2013.

Furthermore, the 2016 report contains updated and revised data for previous years, such that the figures now show Ireland ranking second to the Netherlands in 2012 as well as 2013.

In any case, here’s how “globalised” Ireland has been from 1970 up to 2013, according to the most up-to-date KOF Globalisation Index data. Lower rankings indicate higher degrees of globalisation:

Source: For a full-size version of this chart, click here

And to put that in proper perspective, here’s our ranking to the scale of 207 countries, the number analysed in the index.

Source: For a full-size version of this chart, click here


We know that the most recent data available from the KOF Globalisation Index places Ireland second, which would direct us heavily towards a verdict of “False”.

However, the question of whether Ireland is now the world’s most globalised country, at least according to the KOF Index, remains unanswered.

Using the 2015 index as proof that we are ranked first is very flawed, since we have in the meantime had the 2016 index, which placed us second, and the data for 2012 has since been revised, placing us second that year as well.

However, we may currently be the world’s most globalised country, although we won’t know until 2019, when the index for 2016 is published.

For this reason alone, we rate the claim Unproven.

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About the author:

Dan MacGuill

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