This year’s Social Progress Index again reveals striking differences across countries in their overall social performance, and in their performance across different components of social progress.
Our world average identifies which aspects of social progress are most and least advanced. If the world were a country, it would score 62.88 (out of a possible 100) on the Social Progress Index, ranking between Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. Breaking down this average across dimensions and components of social progress there is a wide variation in how countries are performing. The world scores 73.17 in Basic Human Needs and 67.24 on the Foundations of Wellbeing dimensions, but just 48.24 on Opportunity. Creating a society with opportunity for all citizens remains an elusive goal that many nations have failed to achieve.
Figure 1. World Social Progress Index and Component Scores. Click on image for larger view.
While there is a clear correlation between the level of economic development and social progress, the relationship varies significantly. A country’s income group often does not correspond to its level of social progress, especially in middle- and lower-income countries. We group countries from highest to lowest social progress into six tiers from ‘Very High-Social Progress’ to ‘Very Low-Social Progress.’
Figure 2. World Map of 2016 Results. Click on image for larger view.
The Social Progress Index, based exclusively on indicators of social and environmental outcomes, offers a revealing picture of the levels of development in different countries that is independent of traditional economic measures. Countries achieve very different overall levels of social progress and widely differing patterns of social progress by dimensions and components. The Index reveals that high-income countries tend to achieve higher social progress than low-income countries. Yet this relationship is neither simple nor linear.
Countries at all levels of development can use this data to assess their performance and set priorities for improvement. The Social Progress Index allows a strategic approach to social development that identifies areas for prioritization and investment.