New Zealand has been ranked 17th in the first edition of the Global Talent Competitiveness Index.
The index, launched yesterday by international business school INSEAD, is based on research in partnership with the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore and US-based recruiting company Adecco.
New Zealand ranked first in the survey's "business landscape" category, which included factors such as labour market flexibility.
The country was rated third for regulatory landscape and second for political stability.
In the external openness category - which included brain gain and qualified labour inflow - New Zealand ranked poorly. But on internal openness - including tolerance of immigrants, minorities, social mobility and prevalence of female professionals - the country ranked fourth.
INSEAD said the index, which measures a nation's competitiveness based on the quality of talent it can produce, attract and retain, ranked Switzerland top, followed by Singapore and Denmark.
The index model covers 103 countries, representing 86.3 per cent of the world's population and 96.7 per cent of the globe's gross domestic product.
"There is a widespread mismatch between what companies need in terms of skills and what local labour markets can offer," said Ilian Mihov, dean of INSEAD.
Report co-author Bruno Lanvin said "talent attractiveness" is becoming the currency by which countries, regions and cities compete with each other.
He said youth unemployment had become a core issue in all types of countries, rich or poor, industrialised or emerging.
The index ranking was dominated by European countries but included Singapore (second) and the United States (ninth).