In April 2013, the Social Progress Imperative launched a research product, the Social Progress Index, during a forum at the University of Oxford. Now it's year two and they've grabbed headlines with the results of the 2014 index, finding New Zealand is on top and Chad at the bottom of the overall rankings. What also jumps out are big differences in social progress for countries with similar incomes.
According to Index, economic success alone doesn't explain social progress. The USA (16th), for example, ranks lower than New Zealand, even though the Kiwi nation's GDP is lower. The same pattern is seen for countries at all levels: Ghana (96th) has a similar GDP per capita as Nigeria (123rd), but scores a lot higher on social progress.
The Index reminds us that governments wanting better lives for their citizens need to go beyond economic growth alone in designing their development strategies.
A useful undertaking, even if the governments that rank low tend to disagree about the merits of such beauty contests. They even have a short video highlighting the findings.
- Social Development