The 2017 edition of the Social Progress Index has arrived and placed Denmark in the #1 spot based off a specific set of criteria. Before we march forward, here’s the bluffer’s guide on how the index works. The full study is available online.
The Social Progress Index, based exclusively on indicators of social and environmental outcomes, offers a revealing picture of the levels of development in different countries that is independent of traditional economic measures. Countries achieve very different overall levels of social progress and widely differing patterns of social progress by dimensions and components. The Index reveals that high-income countries tend to achieve higher social progress than low-income countries. Yet this relationship is neither simple nor linear.
The top of the SPI chart has a decidedly Nordic bent. Denmark placed first, followed by Finland, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. The U.S. failed to reach the “Very High Social Progress” tier and ranked between Japan and France in the #18 position. Low marks in Tolerance and Inclusion, as well as in Health and Wellness, Nutrition and Basic Medical Care and Environmental Quality contributed to the underwhelming score. A high homicide rate didn’t help things, either.
“Compared to other countries with similar GDP, the U.S. is lagging in its homicide rates, terrorism, and its traffic deaths,” said SPI CEO Michael Green in an interview with Business Insider.
Green noted that the country is “flatlining” on the index over its intolerance problem, but pushed back against chalking up the disappointing grade to a presidential administration.
“The US is not underperforming because of the Trump administration or the Obama administration,” offered Green. “It’s about the story of long-term under-investment in the justice system, in the education system, in healthcare. Those are the real challenges.”
During a period where America’s two major political parties are still attempting to sort out what voters want and how to interpret the signals they’re being sent, there will always be a call to address the issues laid in the Social Progress Index. How the Dems and GOP intend to follow through in their progress plans for the United States of America is still to be determined.