Social Progress Index, 2017


Social Progress Index 2017

Ukraine ranked 64th among 128 countries in terms of social performance according to the Social Progress Index 2017

Kyiv, Ukraine, 3 July 2017

Ukraine ($7,457 GDP per capita) ranked 64th among 128 countries in terms of social progress, according to the findings of the Social Progress Index 2017 (“SPI”) prepared by US-based non-profit the Social Progress Imperative with the support of Deloitte. The Index ranks the countries based on the indicators directly affecting the quality of people’s lives.  

The results of the Social Progress Index 2017 indicate that the countries demonstrate significantly different social progress levels even with the same GDP per capita. In fact, a country with high GDP can have a very good level of social progress in terms of all indicators but demonstrate a lower economic development compared to the countries with the same level of income, and vice versa.

This year's survey findings indicate the following: an undeniable and significant connection between the Social Progress Index 2017 and GDP per capita; social progress and economic development are not directly proportional. In lower-income countries, small changes in GDP per capita are accompanied by significant advances in social development. After the countries reach high level of income, the development pace tends to slow down.     

By comparing the social progress indicators of CIS countries with their GDP per capita, we can clearly see a disproportionate dependency highlighted by the survey. Belarus and Azerbaijan posted identical GDP per capita (16.7), however Azerbaijan finished 76th in the SPI ranking, while Belarus finished 65th. Armenia that is among the countries with the lowest GDP (in the CIS group) was the most successful in improving its social progress indicators, surpassing Russia that has the highest GDP per capita.

Ukraine ranked 64th out of 128 countries and made it to the group of above-average social progress countries (last year Ukraine ranked 63rd among 133 countries). Among the CIS countries, Ukraine was outperformed only by Armenia (59th), which showed a significant improvement over the year. Belarus finished third (65th) and Russia finished fourth, which, like Armenia, has shown a significant progress. Tajikistan finished the last among the CIS countries (92nd). In general, the post-Soviet countries performed poorly on all indicators; particularly, a significant regression is observed in such categories as Access to Higher Education, Tolerance and Environmental Quality.

All social progress indicators of Ukraine remained mostly unchanged compared to the last year. A slight improvement was made in Access to Information and Communications, Freedom of Choice and Personal Freedom, and Access to Higher Education. At the same time, a slight deterioration was observed in Personal Safety and Tolerance. The highest score, the same as last year, was achieved in Nutrition and Basic Medical Care (98.47 out of 100) and Access to Basic Education (97.52). The lowest progress was in Tolerance (40.52) and Environmental Quality (50.37).

Denmark is the best performing country in the rating followed by Scandinavian countries along with Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, England and Germany. Access to Information and Communications and Access to Advanced Education showed the highest results. In general, the four-year trend during which Deloitte has been preparing the survey suggests that the world is improving but not fast or far enough: out of 128 countries surveyed, 113 improved by 1.37 points since 2014.

If the world were a country, it would rank between Indonesia and Botswana with a score of 64.85 points out of 100 possible, and with a 2.6% increase in global social progress. With such an indicator of social progress, the world is unlikely to meet the UN's sustainable development goals by 2030.

“Millions of people are experiencing a shameful rolling back of their freedoms, more violence and injustice, and blatant discrimination and exclusion from life’s most meaningful opportunities. And despite having access to extreme wealth and other influence, the US along with other advanced nations have hardly made much progress since 2014,” Social Progress Imperative CEO Michael Green said.

“This means we’re seeing incremental change and pockets of social progress rather than widespread transformation. Some countries are even backsliding in areas that are critical to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals – like Environmental Quality, Health and Wellness, Personal Freedom and Choice, and Shelter.” 

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Global trends

  • The 2017 Social Progress Index finds that since 2014, Personal Rights – which includes measures of political rights and freedom of expression – declined in more countries than it improved.
  • The Index detects a rapid deterioration of rights, especially marked in terms of falling political participation and worsening freedoms of expression and assembly, in six countries including Turkey, Thailand and Hungary.
  • Thirty-three countries experienced a deterioration in human rights: Brazil saw the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, and Poland is increasingly restricting free speech and dissent.
  • Improvements in Personal Safety over the last four years remain stubbornly elusive. Almost as many countries experienced a fall as saw an increase in this category of social progress – which spans political terror and traffic deaths.
    • Inverse changes in the homicide rate and in violent crime are cancelling out progress in many countries.
    • Latin America and the Caribbean accounts for many of the world’s largest declines in safety. Since 2009, Honduras has seen the most dramatic increase in homicides: from 44.5 to 74.6 deaths per 100,000 people.
  • On the Index, countries diverge the most when it comes to Tolerance and Inclusion – a measure that includes acceptance of immigrants, homosexuals and religious minorities. Though relatively stable on average, the country-level scores are the most volatile in the Index.
    • Most countries in Europe show consistent or gradually improving scores, but there have been substantial declines in the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia where they are experiencing signs of deteriorating tolerance towards immigrants and increasing discrimination against minorities. The United States has also declined for the same reasons. The ongoing movement of refugees and migrants, and subsequent pressure on resources have likely had a negative effect on this area of social progress.
    • There are some signs of improving tolerance towards homosexuals, however, particularly in regions where recorded levels of tolerance have been poorest. For example, in Nepal 83% of its population say it’s a good place to live for gay and lesbian people, compared to just 56% seven years ago. 
    • Globally, the Index reflects a large decline in the percentage of people who indicate that they have relatives or friends they can count on, if they need help.

Generally, the world is underperforming on social progress compared to what the average GDP per capita suggests is possible. Despite progress in the last decade, our world is still failing most egregiously on Water and Sanitation (access to piped water and improved sanitation facilities) and Access to Basic Knowledge (adult literacy and secondary school enrolment). 

One of the most blatant failures is the world’s most powerful countries have failed to make significant progress over the past four years. Despite having the greatest wealth, largest populations and strongest regional influence, G20 countries like France, the US, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Turkey and China have been largely unsuccessful at improving social and environmental outcomes and continue to underperform compared to what their GDPs suggest is possible.     

The US, being the wealthiest G7 country, should have been able to achieve much more social progress over the past four years, but by all accounts, its progress has flat lined. The nation is significantly falling behind countries with similar GDP per capita on half of the Social Progress Index measures.    

Thankfully, the issues highlighted in the Index are solvable, and business is part of the solution. 

“We have the resources to do better. The main problem is the inequality in wealth between rich and poor nations. Global aid flows are not sufficient to help the poorest countries to provide these basic needs for all,” Social Progress Imperative CEO Michael Green said. “Greater income can easily and positively influence a country’s social progress performance in more than half of the areas measured on the Social Progress Index. But it simply won’t be enough; the most stubborn challenges need innovation and other creative interventions, making social progress achievable by even the lowest resourced countries.”

Other global findings

  • Access to Information and Communications and Access to Advanced Education are driving global social progress.
    • More than 87% of people globally have mobile phone subscription and 95% of people live in an area with a mobile-cellular network. The increase in Internet users globally has also increased over the last five years: more than 49% of the world’s population use the Web – up by over 8% in just four years.
    • Better access to advanced education has contributed to social progress gains over the last four years: 89 countries have globally ranked universities (compared to 75 countries in 2014). Although most world-class universities are in Europe, North America, and Australia; East Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa can now claim top quality university education. In 2014, only South Africa had globally ranked universities in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2017, that list now includes Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda.
  • The top improvers (moving up their scores by three or more points) over the past four years are low and lower middle-income countries, which have the most areas to improve: Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Ghana, Bangladesh, Côte d'Ivoire, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Nigeria.
  • The countries that have shown the most decline (moving down their scores by more than one point) in the past four years include Nicaragua, Hungary, Central African Republic, and Republic of Congo.
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is far from being the sole determinant of social progress. Across the spectrum, from rich to poor, we see how some countries are much better at turning their economic growth into social progress than others.
    • Costa Rica, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Nepal, Senegal and Chile are identified by the 2017 Social Progress Index as the nations that most overperform on measures of social progress.
    • Angola, Saudi Arabia, Central African Republic, Kuwait, Chad and Afghanistan are identified by the 2017 Social Progress Index as the nations that most underperform on measures of social progress.

“Addressing the complex challenges society faces, globally and locally, is a critical role for business. That is why Deloitte has been working alongside Social Progress Imperative to empower communities with new ways to think about and measure what matters most for society to advance and prosper,” said David Cruickshank, Deloitte Global Chairman.

“Today’s business leaders want to better understand the societal forces shaping our world. I believe this Index has the ability to help enable these leaders, alongside those in government and civil society organizations, to systematically identify a strategy towards responsible and inclusive growth through prioritizing the most pressing needs of their communities.”  

About the Social Progress Index

The Social Progress Index is the first holistic measure of a country's social performance that is independent of economic factors. The index is based on a range of social and environmental indicators that capture three dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. The 2017 Social Progress Index includes data from 128 countries on 50 indicators. It includes 98% of world population. It is designed as a complement to GDP and other economic indicators to provide a more holistic understanding of countries’ overall performance.

About the Social Progress Imperative

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 ICP is currently widely used by the governments and companies worldwide to measure the social progress of the states, cities and populated areas.

Financial support

The Social Progress Imperative is registered as a non-profit organization in the United States. In 2017, the ICP was supported by Deloitte, the Ford Foundation, and the Skoll Foundation along with the individual donors. Other contributors, including the primary authors Professors Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School, and Scott Stern of MIT, are listed within the report.

What is social progress?

The 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 and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential. 

* GDP per capita definition

The Social Progress Index uses the World Bank definition: “GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP). To calculate PPP GDP, the value of gross domestic product is adjusted and converted into international dollars according to PPP for the comparability of the indicator for different countries. An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GDP as the U.S. dollar has in the United States.

GDP at purchaser's prices is the sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or for depletion and degradation of natural resources.” 

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