12 Jul 2017
It’s too simple to say the world has an “average” citizen — someone who embodies the common lived experience across borders, cultures, and lifestyles. Thankfully, our world is wildly diverse, and every individual is beautifully and equally unique. Statistically, though, we can average each country’s scores on the 2017 Social Progress Index and imagine what the quality of life might be like for the community that falls exactly in the middle, across all 12 of the components we measure.
First, the Index tells us this place looks similar to a semi-urban community in Sri Lanka. Let’s explore through the eyes of a young woman what daily life could entail…
She sees access to basic education improving, but she may have to drop out of high school prior to graduation due to socioeconomic pressure or gender inequality. She may live near a globally ranked university, though. There is growing access to phones and Internet in her community, but she may experience a limited number of news sources.
She sees nutrition and access to basic medical care improving and notices more people are living past 60 years old. However, she may know someone who has committed suicide or perceive a high rate of suicide.
Her environment may be affected by poor waste water treatment and air pollution. Only a little over half of her community has access to piped water and decent sanitation. She has basic shelter with electricity, but the power supply is inconsistent and there may be limited ventilation. She may be a renter or a squatter because her community experiences low property rights.
She sees some crime in her community but does not consider it especially dangerous. However, she may perceive some government oppression and corruption. She feels her voice is not heard and it is not easy to participate in the election process.
She may see some early marriage in her community, but feels she has freedom over her choices, access to contraception and some kind of community safety net. Possibly a minority herself, she may feel there are high levels of discrimination and violence against minorities: immigrants, homosexuals and people with other religions.
Overall, she may believe social progress is improving, but more needs to be done to help the most disadvantaged in her community.
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