In Case You Missed It: 2017 Social Progress Index


Two weeks ago, we launched the 2017 Social Progress Index. The Social Progress Index is the first holistic measure of a country’s social performance that is independent of economic factors, and this year’s release is our best yet.

If you agree, make a gift to the Social Progress Imperative to support our continuing efforts to advance social progress in your community.

Also, in case you missed the Index launch, here are seven headlines from the 2017 results:

1. The world is improving, but not fast or far enough

The world average has gone up by 2.6 percent since 2014, but we need to do better if we are going to meet our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

2. The G7 countries have experienced only modest improvements 

Of the G7 countries, Canada is the highest-ranked (6th place globally), while Japan has seen the biggest improvements since 2014. Italy, ranked 24th, remains the laggard of the G7.

3. Denmark takes the top spot on the 2017 Index

Denmark performs well across the board, leading the world in Shelter and Personal Rights.

4. The biggest improvements have been in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa

Better Access to Information and Communications has underpinned Myanmar’s progress, while Ghana and Nigeria have significantly improved Access to Advanced Education.

5. The US is now a second-tier country on social progress

Placing just 18th in the world, the US has experienced particularly significant declines in Tolerance and Inclusion since 2014, and has slipped out of the tier of top performers on social progress.

6. New Zealand is the only country in the highest tier of social progress to overperform relative to its GDP

Ranked 9th in the world, New Zealand achieves the same level of social progress as Australia despite its significantly smaller GDP per capita.

7. GDP is not destiny

Countries as varied as Costa Rica and Nepal are achieving significantly better social outcomes than their GDP per capita would suggest are possible or likely. Others, like the US, France and Saudi Arabia, struggle to achieve levels of social progress that match their economic prosperity.


These are just some of the findings from the 2017 Index, and they only scratch the surface. Explore the full results and download our latest data to see how your country scored and discover global and regional trends.

The Social Progress Index is just the first step towards taking action and creating impact. Using these data, change makers from around the world can better understand the specific challenges each country faces and work together to take these challenges on.

As you find value in its insights, please make a gift to help us continue building a vibrant network, advocate for better data, and provide new insights for agents of progress to act on as they build a better world.

Below is a sampling of media reports and editorials about the 2017 Social Progress Index.

The Washington Post


The Washington Post

How the United States became a ‘second-tier’ country





America Is now a ‘second tier’ country



Fast Company


Fast Company

On social progress, the U.S. isn’t the world leader it thinks it is





Commentary by our board member, Matthew Bishop

Revealed: the best-performing country in the world (and it’s not America)




Commentary by our board member, Sally Osberg

2017 Social Progress Index reveals actionable insights for decision makers, social entrepreneurs, and engaged citizens



Alliance Magazine

Commentary by our CEO, Michael Green

To achieve social progress, donors must focus on the big challenges