2020 Social Progress Index Summary


2020 Social Progress Index Summary

About the Social Progress Index

The Social Progress Index ("the Index") has been compiled by the Social Progress Imperative, a US-based non-profit. It measures how well countries and communities convert their resources into positive social and environmental outcomes that improve the daily lives of citizens. Covering key areas like health, safety, education, rights and opportunity, the index empowers decision makers and everyday people with hard data on social progress.

The 2020 Social Progress Index is the most comprehensive measure of the world’s social performance, with more than 80,000 pieces of data collected and vetted from the past 10 years. The Index helps us understand how more than 7 billion people across 163 countries are really living, as well as who is being left behind.

The index with country rankings and full data is available at www.socialprogress.org.


2020 Social Progress Index key findings

  • Based on current trends the world will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) until 2082; and Covid-19 and the accompanying economic crisis could delay progress by a further decade, pushing SDG fulfilment out to 2092 – 62 years behind schedule.
  • As a whole, the world is improving. Since 2011, the world average SPI score increased from 60.63 to 64.24, with the greatest gains in Access to Information and Communications, Access to Advanced Education, Shelter and Water and Sanitation. However, worrying declines over the last ten years in Personal Rights and Inclusiveness track with the rise of populist, authoritarian governments.
  • Poor performance on Environmental Quality and a lack of any progress on this issue over the last decade represents a particular problem given the accelerating pace of climate change and ecological collapse.
  • Norway ranks first in the world on social progress, with South Sudan at the bottom of the list. The fastest progress over the past decade is among developing countries, including The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Nepal.
  • There are important outliers that have declined on social progress. Most notably, the US continues to backslide, both in absolute terms and relative to its wealthy, world-power peers. Ranking just 28th in social progress, the US is one of only 3 countries where social progress has declined over the past decade, along with Brazil and Hungary.
  • A new Social Progress Imperative Ipsos global poll finds the majority of people across countries hit hardest by the pandemic prioritise social progress over economic growth.

A New Zealand Perspective

This year New Zealand scored 91.64 (up from 88.93) and ranked 4th globally (up from 7th last year).

The 2020 Dashboard indicates:

  • Our biggest weaknesses are: GHG emissions (per capita), Biome protection, access to quality healthcare, and early marriage (as an indicator for personal freedom and choice);
  • Our strengths are: Levels of perceived criminality, corruption and equality of political power by gender; and
  • We scored 1st globally in 8 categories.

Social Progress Imperative social media handles

Twitter: @socprogress
Facebook: @SocialProgressImperative
LinkedIn: Social Progress Imperative
Website: socialprogress.org


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