Insights

2018 Social Progress Index report

A global view of people’s quality of life, independent of wealth.

Deloitte and the Social Progress Imperative (SPI) are working together to get a global view of people’s quality of life and the wellbeing of society, independent of wealth. The Social Progress Index measures what matters to citizens – health care, infrastructure, civil liberties – the very characteristics that are the foundation for sustainable societies. Designed to complement GDP, the Index uses societal and environmental outcome indicators to provide an authoritative view across three dimensions: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing and Opportunity.

  • The 2018 Social Progress Index report was launched on 20 September by SPI with support from Deloitte and its strategic partners. See the full 2018 results here.
  • It finds that 133 countries, out of the 146 countries ranked, have improved their level of social progress since 2014, with some countries demonstrating that it’s possible to improve social progress significantly, in spite of economic and geopolitical challenges.
  • However, 6 countries declined have on social progress since 2014: Brazil, Mauritania, Thailand, Turkey, the US and Yemen, and overall progress is slow and uneven. The world is underperforming compared to what global average GDP per capita suggests is possible. This signals that we have the resources to be better and that rising GDP figures are masking the real problems societies face and struggles of ordinary people.

Findings
  • Norway is the world’s top performer on the Social Progress Index in 2018, closely followed by three additional Nordic countries and Switzerland to round out the top five. Countries much larger in size and more diverse in population, including the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada also find themselves in the top tier.

  • If the world were a country, it would rank between Botswana and the Philippines on the Social Progress Index (score: 63.46/100).
  • The world scores highest on Nutrition and Basic Medical Care (83.21) and Access to Basic Knowledge (81.42/100), and lowest on Access to Advanced Education (39.36) and Inclusiveness (40.17).
  • For the first time, SPI compared 146 countries’ social progress performance across five years to help map global, regional, and national trends. On average, over the last five years, the world is improving.

—  Since 2014, the world average score has improved by 1.66 points from 61.80 to 63.46.

—  133 countries (91% of those measured) improved by half a point or more; 111 improved by one point or more, and 19 countries improved by three or more points.

—  Only 6 countries declined on social progress since 2014: Brazil, Mauritania, Thailand, Turkey, the US, and Yemen.

  • But progress is uneven: Shelter, Access to Information and Communications and Advanced Education are improving the fastest while Personal Rights and Inclusiveness have declined.

Why these findings matter

  • The complexities of the 21st century require new measures of progress. Relying only on a country’s wealth or GDP as a measure creates an incomplete picture of human and societal development. Moreover, increasingly we realize the getting rich will not solve current social challenges. To drive sustainable and equitable growth, we need to focus on measurements which go beyond GDP.
  • The Social Progress Index is changing the way we address social challenges. Acting as a roadmap, the Social Progress Index can help enable leaders – across business, government and civil society – to systematically identify a strategy towards responsible and inclusive growth through prioritizing the most pressing needs of their communities.
  • With this insight businesses can better support governments and non-profits in finding solutions to fill those gaps. Social challenges also present opportunities for companies that understand sustainable change can be met through innovative products and services. Financial institutions and impact investment groups have begun applying the Social Progress Index to understand risk and drive capital towards social investments.

For further information on how we can use the Social Progress Index to help our clients and society, see our Collaborations page.

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