Passport Power – Take 2

As I argued in my previous post, I have a problem with the way Passport Index ranks the ‘power’ of passports. Passport Index practically counts each and every country as equal and ranks the passports based on how many visa-free travel opportunities they provide. However, I believe a better measurement of passport power requires two more dimensions:

  • Desirability: Do I really want to go to a country that does not require a visa?
  • Exclusivity: Do I get a visa-free travel because my passport is powerful or because the receiving country has very ‘relaxed’  visa regulations?

Finally, I found a dataset that has 189 countries (dataset belongs to Lawson & Lemke) and combined it with World Bank’s international tourism arrival numbers. Guess who has the most powerful passport?

Who has the most powerful passport? Hint- not me. Photo: iStock

Who has the most powerful passport? Hint- not me. Photo: iStock

After I merge the datasets and clean missing points, I end up with 156 countries. Below table shows the top 15 countries based on the number of visa free destinations as well as their adjusted ranks (adjusted for desirability and exclusivity).

Country Name Adjusted rank Rank based on number of visa free destinations Difference
Micronesia, Fed. Sts. 1 3 2
Samoa 2 5 3
Seychelles 3 6 3
Palau 4 4 0
Maldives 5 2 -3
Lao PDR 6 1 -5
Nepal 7 7 0
Sri Lanka 8 26 18
Malaysia 9 9 0
Nicaragua 10 10 0
Lebanon 11 20 9
Singapore 12 8 -4
Jordan 13 13 0
Turkey 14 14 0
Hong Kong, China 15 12 -3

The numbers have spoken – the most powerful passport belongs to Micronesia!

A couple of notes:

– Lawson & Lemke categorize “visa free” travel together with easily obtained visa and visa at the border categories.

– World Bank international tourism dataset missed figures for three European countries that pushed EU passports a little bit down (as they were excluded from the dataset).

– Lawson & Lemke dataset was created in 2012, and World Bank figures reflect 2013 arrivals.

– If you want to see the matrices and calculations I used, here is a Google Sheet version. Please do let me know if you find a mistake.

For the time being, feel free to peruse the citizenship laws of Micronesia.

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About Efe
I read and write about political communication stuff and I play with data to see what they have to say. I also love to cook.

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