Social Progress Index 2020: Is the world making (enough) progress?

The Social Progress Index (SPI) of 2020 has been published today. The SPI uses non-economic indicators to chart how well countries are doing. Read below how it works in the 163 countries described in the SPI. Overall, is the world continuing to make progress? How is your own doing? Are there certain things that clearly need improvement? Which countries are progressing the fastest? Which countries are actually declining? How is the United States doing in the era of Donald Trump?

What the SPI measures

To see what the Social Progress Index measures, we will look at an example of one country (the USA).

As can be seen, there are large difference in how well the USA performs on different indicators. There are a few indicators in which the USA ranks nr 1. At the same time, there are quite a few on which it scores rather low such as:

  • personal safety
  • access to quality education
  • health and wellness
  • environmental quality
  • political rights
  • personal rights
  • equality of political power by socioeconomic position
  • discrimination and violence against minorities

Results for the world

Below is a summary of some other results mentioned in the report.

  1. In general, the world is making progress. Since 2014, the global mean score has increased from 60.63 to 64.24, and eight of the 12 components of social progress have improved.
  2. Progress is not going fast enough. The index shows the results on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals and shows that, if current trends continue, the world will not reach the goals until 2082. The data also indicates that unless urgent action is taken, the Covid-19 pandemic will push us back for another decade, delaying the achievement of its goals until 2092 - more than 60 years after the 2030 target date.
  3. There are specific problem areas. Despite overall progress, personal rights and inclusiveness have declined since 2011, while the world has stagnated in terms of environmental quality and personal safety.
  4. Countries that are doing well. Norway ranks first in the world in terms of social progress with a score of 92.72. The fastest progress in the past decade has been made among developing countries, with The Gambia, Ethiopia and Tunisia showing notable improvements.
  5. Countries that are not doing well. There are significant outliers that have declined in terms of social progress. Most notably, the United States continues to decline, both in absolute terms and in relation to its affluent fellow world powers, being only 28th in social progress and only one of three countries to regress in social progress over the past decade gone.

For details, visit Announcing the 2020 Social Progress Index.