According to a new index of social progress designed to supplement GDP as a measure of a country's wellbeing, Sweden is the most socially advanced country globally, followed by the UK. The Social Progress Index, covering 50 countries, was released today at the Skoll World Forum.
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."
The index measures indicators of social progess under the headings of Basic Human Needs, which covers such items as nutrition and basic medical care, Foundation of Wellbeing, which includes access to knowledge and ecosystem sustainability, and Opportunity, which covers personal rights, access to higher education, personal freedom and choice, and equity and inclusion.
Israel ranks 16th overall on the index. For Opportunity, it ranks 23rd. Top in that category is the US. The report on Israel states, "Of issues covered by the Basic Human Needs Subindex, Israel does best in areas including Air, Water, and Sanitation and has the greatest opportunity to improve human wellbeing by focusing more on Shelter. Of issues covered by the Social Infrastructure Subindex, Israel excels at providing building blocks for people's lives such as Health and Wellness but would benefit from greater investment in Ecosystem Sustainability. Of issues covered by the Opportunity Subindex, Israel outperforms in providing opportunities for people to improve their position in society and scores highly in Access to Higher Education yet falls short in Equity and Inclusion."
The index was designed by Professor Porter and The Social Progress Imperative, in collaboration with economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and international organizations in social entrepreneurship, business, philanthropy, and academia including Cisco, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (DTTL), Skoll Foundation, Fundacion AVINA, and Compartamos Banco.
According to the report, the index "uses a rigorous statistical technique and the best available data from internationally recognised sources, including the World Bank and the World Health Organization."
“The ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 and the challenges in Mexico over the last decade, have illustrated the shortcomings of economic growth as a proxy for social progress”, said Professor Porter. “In both business and economic development, our understanding of success has been incomplete.
“Previous efforts to go beyond economic measurement alone have laid important groundwork, but we need a more holistic, comprehensive, and rigorous approach. The Social Progress Index is an attempt to address these gaps and opportunities.
" The Social Progress Imperative asserts that traditional indicators of economic growth do not tell the whole story of a country’s progress. While certainly greater income leads to higher standards of living, it is possible to achieve a high level of social progress at a relatively modest income level."
The index compilers compute Israel's GDP per capita on a purchasing power parity basis at $27,825, putting it 13th in the list of 50 countries. This presumably means that Israel is underperforming in terms of social progress relative to its wealth.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 11, 2013
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