SPI results


Singapore improves its Access to Advanced Education and Environment Quality, according to the Social Progress Index 2020

Singapore is ranked 29 out of 163 countries in this year’s Social Progress Index.


SINGAPORE, 24 September 2020 — As the emphasis on upskilling workforce to respond and thrive in the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and calls for environmental protection grow stronger, the recently released Social Progress Index 2020 shows that Singapore has improved its access to advanced education and environmental quality.

The 2020 Social Progress Index ("SPI"), compiled by the Social Progress Imperative - a US-based non-profit - with the support of Deloitte, ranks 163 countries’ social performance over the last ten years, based on 50 separate criteria.

This year, Singapore ranks 29 on the SPI, out of 163 countries. It is the leading Southeast Asia country, ahead of its ASEAN counterparts Malaysia (48), Thailand (79), Indonesia (84), Vietnam (88), the Philippines (98), Cambodia (118), Myanmar (120), and Laos (133). For comparison, Singapore was ranked 27 out of 149 countries in 2019.

Singapore has performed consistently well with high scores of 90 points and above for Water & Sanitation (98.96), albeit a dip from the past two years’ perfect 100 score, Nutrition and Basic Medical Care (98.03), Shelter (97.08), Personal Safety (96.57), Access to Basic Knowledge (92.66), and Health and Wellness (90.36).

Singapore has also been highlighted in the SPI report as one of the best places to live in terms of Personal Safety, and Health and Wellness.

Access to Advanced Education (75.13) and Environmental Quality (76.98) stand out as the most improved, with a rise in score from last year’s 53.23 and 68.35 points respectively, and there is potential for further growth in both categories. Some other areas that have improved include Access to Information & Communications (84.52), Personal Freedom & Choice (88.32), and Inclusiveness (56.09).

Singapore’s performance in its scorecard is relative to 15 countries of similar GDP per capita: Qatar, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, Norway, United States, Netherlands, Denmark, Iceland, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Kuwait.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of digitalisation, and the Singapore government has rolled out initiatives to help businesses embrace technology and individuals to upskill themselves, so that they are able to respond, recover and thrive in these volatile times. As a business operating in Singapore, we support the government’s efforts by adopting a growth mindset and encouraging our employees to learn new skills and take on roles that lead to higher value work,” said Mr CHEUNG Pui Yuen, Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte Singapore.

“Beyond digitalisation, sustainability transformation is also paramount for businesses in this time of rapid climate change. With no hinterland to retreat to, the Singapore government has made long-term plans to combat the impacts of climate change, and every business, household and individual should play a part in ensuring a healthy and liveable environment for all,” added Mr Cheung.


Global results

According to SPI projections, and based on current trends:

  • The world will not achieve the UN Sustainable 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

The data shows higher levels of social progress are associated with lower rates of Covid-19 infection, after accounting for GDP and regional differences. This relationship is strongest for the ‘Opportunity’ element of the Index, including scores for ‘access to higher education’ and ‘equity and inclusion’.

This suggests inclusive, tolerant and better-educated societies are better able to manage the pandemic.

Notwithstanding the Covid-19 effect, SPI’s data shows the world’s progress (improving from 60.63 points in 2011 to 64.24 in 2020) is still not enough to achieve the SDGs. Worryingly, declines over the last ten years in rights and inclusiveness track the rise of populist, authoritarian governments.

The decline is most stark in recent years:

  • Personal Rights were down 6.42 points between 2011-20
  • Over 80% (5.17 points) of the fall was between 2016 and 2020
  • Inclusiveness is down 3.48 points between 2011-20

The world scores worst on Environmental Quality (36.87) and Inclusiveness (39.25), both of which lag far behind other Index components. Poor performance on Environmental Quality and a lack of any progress on this issue over the last decade represents a particular problem given climate change and ecological collapse.

Commenting on the global results, CEO of Social Progress Imperative, Michael Green said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities and flaws throughout our society. Covid-19 has bred on poverty, racial injustice and gender inequity. These problems will worsen as a result of the pandemic, through its impact on education, on healthcare, on work and basic safety nets. In sum, the world faces a potential lost decade of progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This is a unique moment to use these challenges as an opportunity for systemic change and to make real social progress.”

Deloitte Global Board Chair and Social Progress Imperative Board member, Sharon Thorne said:

“The Social Progress Index further exposes the growing inequalities within our society and the increasing threat of climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic has put an even greater demand on solving global challenges collectively by reinforcing the need for collaboration between businesses, governments and civil society. Now is the time to accelerate progress toward the SDGs, not retreat from them, by using the Index as a guide toward rebuilding and reshaping a better normal.”

Data from this year’s Index also shows:

  • The US is the only G7 country to go backwards on social progress and one of only three countries that have declined over the past decade, along with Brazil and Hungary.
  • Global progress has stagnated on Personal Safety and only modestly improved in Health and Wellness, Personal Freedom and Choice. Virtually no progress has been made on Environmental Quality.
  • Developing countries are catching up. Since 2011, the variation in Index scores has fallen 12.3%. Rates of convergence are higher than that of GDP per capita.
  • The world scores best on Nutrition and Basic Medical Care (84.63), Shelter (77.09), Water and Sanitation (74.72), and Access to Basic Knowledge (75.18).
  • The world has improved dramatically on Access to Information and Communications (+21.61), due to technology and communications infrastructure progress in the developing world. Other material improvements include: Access to Advanced Education (+7.45), Shelter (+6.10), and Water and Sanitation (+5.57).
  • Only 13 countries over-perform relative to national income. 35 countries are underperformers. Kyrgyzstan and Ghana are among the countries that over-perform most significantly. Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea are among the biggest underperformers.

Notes to Editors

About the Social Progress Imperative

The Social Progress Imperative is a US-based non-profit exclusively focused on redefining how the world measures success, putting things that matter to people’s lives at the top of the agenda. Established in 2012, they strive to improve the lives of people around the world by fostering research and knowledge sharing on social progress and using data to catalyze action.

The Social Progress Index measures how well countries and communities convert their resources into social and environmental outcomes that impact the lives of people every day—like health, safety, education, rights and opportunity. Empowering decision makers and everyday citizens with this hard data and vital new insight allows them to understand precisely how people are really living and who is being left behind. A global network of local partners are now delivering subnational Social Progress Indexes that have revealed the true state of society for more than 2.7 billion people across more than 45 countries.

The 2020 Social Progress Index measures and ranks the social and environmental performance of 163 countries over the past 10 years using more than 80,000 pieces of data. The 163 countries measured by the 2020 Index are home to 99.85% of the world’s people. Explore the data and join the conversation at www.socialprogress.org.

Press contact:

June Yeo
Deloitte Singapore
Marketing & Communications
Tel: +65 6800 3937
Email: juneyeo@deloitte.com

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