Social Progress Index

on a scale from 0 to 100.

The Social Progress Index is one of the most prominent reactions to the misuse of GDP as a figure of merit for nations. The SPI eschews all economic indicators and is instead based on measurable variables that , such as the number . It particularly seeks measures that it is possible to do something about.

The 2015 index may be seen at,dim2,dim3

The index is the work of the Social Progress Imperative. Separate reports issued for 2013 and for 2014 describe the methodology. (Search their site under “Publications” to download pdfs.) In addition to excluding variables that are economic, and those that are inputs rather than outcomes, any variable is excluded if data for it is not available for 95% of the nations. The result is that the Index is built on only those variables that have actually been measured reliably in 95% of the world, which is unavoidably suboptimal and sometimes leads to bizarre results. For example, in 2015 the Index was forced to drop the Stillbirth Rate, surely a key indicator of national health, because the WHO was no longer updating the data.

In 2015 the United States came in 16th place, largely because of being 35th in “Foundations of Wellbeing”, which includes such subcomponents as 45th in “Access to Basic Knowledge”, i.e., schooling; 68th in “Health and Wellness”, tied with Togo; and 74th in “Ecosystem Sustainability”, a bit worse than Peru and a bit better than South Africa.

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