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How social progress develops with and helps attract foreign direct investment
A tool for Governments, Businesses and NGOs to look beyond economics toward Social Progress measurements to maximize FDI and growth
With increased economic growth and globalization, 2015 is set to be a banner year for foreign direct investment (FDI) in many countries around the world. This increase in capital showcases the need for countries to look beyond financial figures and understand what impacts FDI. In support of this effort a report developed by Deloitte UK, in conjunction with the Social Progress Imperative (SPI), has found that the right policies can spur a virtuous circle where rising social progress in a country attracts FDI which in turn can be used to drive further progress.
The new report, Foreign Direct Investment and Inclusive Growth: The impacts on social progress, compares data from the Social Progress Index, a holistic measurement of growth and performance beyond GDP for 132 countries, and FDI metrics.
“While the economic benefits of FDI inflows are well understood, the contribution of FDI to social progress is less clear cut,” said Steve Almond, Deloitte Global Chairman. “This report demonstrates how the Social Progress Index can act as a guide for business and other organizations to make smarter strategic investments and shows governments that policies focused on driving social progress can attract FDI, which in turn advances both economic and social development.”
The report found that FDI can encourage a country’s future social progress through specific support – such as investments in healthcare and education – and indirectly through employment and higher incomes. In addition, social progress factors such as infrastructure, education, and personal and political security can help attract overseas investment. Equally important for FDI are quality of life factors, such as tolerance and inclusion, as they help attract the international workforce and investment required for highly skilled industries such as finance.
However, in terms of social progress, not all FDI is equal and the virtuous cycle is not guaranteed. Governments must put in place complementary polices to really drive social progress through FDI. For instance, countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICs) or Kazakhstan attract significant levels of FDI without realizing higher social progress. This can occur in many instances including when rapid economic growth exceeds the pace of social progress, when FDI is disproportionately directed to certain industries such as natural resources, when the political environment deters investment or when countries are caught in poverty traps.
Social progress, FDI and the ladder of economic growth
According to the report, social progress can explain some of the trends in FDI and FDI can explain some of the improvements in social progress. The report reveals how different elements of social progress evolve across stages of economic development, and how social progress contributes to countries’ climbing this ladder of development. With the majority of FDI now flowing into emerging economies, understanding what factors can drive development will help these countries to better leverage this nuanced relationship.
“This report demonstrates that the relationship between business and society can be symbiotic, not conflictual,” says Michael Green, Executive Director of the Social Progress Imperative. “It shows that, in the right circumstances, FDI delivers real benefits to the lives of ordinary people above and beyond its economic impact. Yet, crucially, it also shows how business thrives best in healthy societies.”
Full details about the report are available here: http://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/fdi-and-inclusive-growth.html
About Social Progress Imperative and the Social Progress Index
The Social Progress Imperative’s mission is to improve the lives of people around the world, particularly the least well off, by advancing global social progress by: providing a robust, holistic and innovative measurement tool—the Social Progress Index; fostering research and knowledge-sharing on social progress; and equipping leaders and change-makers in business, government and civil society with new tools to guide policies and programs. The Social Progress Imperative is registered as a non-profit organization in the United States, and is grateful to the following organizations for their financial support: Cisco, Compartamos Banco, Deloitte Global, Fundación Avina, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Skoll Foundation.
What is ‘social progress’?
Social progress is defined as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens to improve their lives, and create the conditions for individuals and communities to meet their full potential.
The Social Progress Index is an aggregate index of social and environmental indicators that capture three dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. The Index measures social progress strictly using outcomes of success, not how much effort a country makes. For example, how much a country spends on healthcare is much less important than the health and wellness actually achieved by that country, which is what outcomes measure.