New! Social Progress Index for the Administrative Regions of Rio de Janeiro

Rio Index website screenshot

Rio de Janeiro in Brazil has become only the second city in the world, after Bogota, Colombia to create a Social Progress Index assessing the social and environmental performance of different regions of the same city.

The #ProgressoSocialBrasil Network today released the results of the Social Progress Index for the Administrative Regions of Rio de Janeiro (IPS Rio)—an unprecedented social map which enables analysis of 32 distinct Administrative Regions within the city.

The new Social Progress Index finds that of the 12 components measured, Rio’s Administrative Regions struggle most with Access to Higher Education (scoring 32.36 of a possible 100 points) and Sustainability of Ecosystems (49.58 of a possible 100 points), due to, respectively, the low rates of people who finish higher education, especially among the non-white population, and the low rates of selective waste collection.


Beyond identifying city-wide challenges, the data also shines an important light on inequalities between different regions of the city and their relation to quality of life and per capita income. Although some Administrative Regions have similar per capita income, such as Maré (BRL 659) and Rocinha (BRL 657), their level of development can vary substantially. In the case of Maré, it is five places higher then Rocinha, with a Social Progress Index score of 52.29 compared with 44.53.

According to Glaucia Barros, director of Fundación Avina in Brazil, the organization that leads the #ProgressoSocialBrasil Network, “when coordinating partners and resources to look into the Social Progress Index in the city of Rio de Janeiro, our purpose was to offer the city’s citizens and, especially, its decision-makers, information and input to make more coherent, equitable and assertive decisions regarding public investment.” 

One of the main findings of the report is that inequality is extremely high in Rio de Janeiro. While two administrative regions (Lagoa, Botafogo) have social progress scores higher than 85, six administrative regions have social progress scores lower than 45 (Guaratiba, Portuaria, Rocinha, Jacarezinho, Complexo do Alemao, Pavuna). Only 1% of people living in Jacarezinho have completed their advanced studies, whereas in Lagoa this figure increases to 58%.

The diagnosis—made with support from Fundação Roberto Marinho, Fundación Avina and the Social Progress Imperative—aims to be a reference for the social development of the city of Rio de Janeiro, which has approximately 6.5 million people living in the 32 Administrative Regions studied. The study will help local government, companies, foundations, institutes and NGOs to coordinate and prioritize themes for social initiatives.


Heloisa Montes, partner at Deloitte, a global sponsor of the Social Progress Imperative and part of the #ProgressoSocialBrasil Network, says that IPS Rio is an important instrument to guide corporate investment in the field of social responsibility. “The private sector has been playing a major role in the field of social development all over the world, and in Brazil as well, in view of our historical and complex challenges that can no longer be addressed only by the public spheres. So, the IPS Rio intends to become a reference to guide strategies in the field of social responsibility developed by companies that play an important role in this city. After all, beyond being the postcard of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro reflects in a singular way many of the social-economic features of the entire country.” 

To calculate IPS Rio, 36 indicators were used. They all came from reliable public sources, mostly published annually or biannually. The study was conducted over eight months, with technical support from Instituto Pereira Passos and dozens of partner organizations that contributed to collect the necessary data for the results that, according to the Social Progress Index methodology, include three dimensions: “Basic Human Needs,” “Foundations of Wellbeing” and “Opportunity.”

The indicators used in this index include access to piped water, population living in non-urbanized slums, homicides and robbery on the streets (in “Basic Human Needs”); school dropout data, number of non-urbanized areas and access to the internet (in “Foundations of Wellbeing”) and indicators such as homicides by the police, violence against women, family vulnerability and access to higher education among the African Brazilian and Indigenous populations (in “Opportunity”).

“IPS Rio demonstrates, yet again, how important the Social Progress Index is as a measurement tool that can be applied at the sub-national level to help inform policy-making. Here in Brazil, the index is equipping a wide-range of local stakeholders with the information to help inform and focus priorities,” said Michael Green, Executive Director of the Social Progress Imperative.

“From an index covering almost 800 municipalities in the Brazilian Amazon to an in-depth analysis of 300 regions of the EU, and from an evaluation of the social progress of the cantons of Costa Rica to an index covering some of Colombia’s biggest cities over a five-year period, the Social Progress Index has proven to be a flexible tool which local stakeholders can adapt, using locally relevant indicators and data to fit to local need.” 

IPS Rio is just the beginning of a process that will monitor local social progress. Since is it based on secondary data, it can be updated periodically and can help to monitor in detail the changes and improvements in the city’s public policies. The index is a tool that offers a new view on Rio de Janeiro to understand what aspects need private or public intervention the most. Therefore, it is important to help the city improve faster and with less inequality.

“According to Zen Buddhism, ‘being, seeing and acting’ are the same thing. Without seeing, we act differently and are different. The Social Progress Index is a synthetic indicator that helps us see Rio de Janeiro from a holistic perspective, considering not only the meeting of basic human needs, but also the wellbeing and the opportunities to develop human potential, so that we can ‘be, see and act’ better cariocas,” summarizes IPP president, Sérgio Besserman.

Until recently, the success of a society was measured only through indexes such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI), which were widely influenced by economic development and do not measure quality of life, health and wellbeing of populations. In 2013, the creation of the Social Progress Index*—initially proposed to be applied globally—enabled social progress to be measured directly, independently from economic development.

Since then, various national and subnational initiatives have been created to apply the Social Progress Index, especially in Latin American countries. This led to the creation of the global Social Progress Network, which consists of partner organizations in business, government and civil society that use the Social Progress Index as a tool to advance social progress. The #ProgressoSocialBrasil Network is part of the global Social Progress Network. In 2014, the #ProgressoSocialBrasil Network conceived and supported use of the Social Progress Index methodology to measure social progress in each of nearly 800 municipalities in the Brazilian Amazon, in a project led by the nonprofit Imazon and with technical support from the Social Progress Imperative.

The new study for Rio de Janeiro was developed by the Instituto de Pesquisa Pereira Passos. The study is unique in its use of secondary data to measure social-environmental development in Rio de Janeiro’s administrative regions. 

The new Social Progress Index for the Administrative Regions of the Brazilian Amazon can be explored online: 

Read the Executive Summary of the Social Progress Index for Administrative Regions of Rio de Janeiro (Portuguese).

Read the press release in Portuguese.