Social Progress Index – Beyond Economic Indicators


The economic well-being of a country is a one-dimensional indicator of its progress, but real progress depends on social well-being. In fact, economic development itself does not meet the country’s goal. The growth of the economy is necessary as a means of ensuring the availability of the resources necessary for the well-being of the citizens of the country. Therefore, we can conclude that the analysis of the economy is a partial assessment of the overall growth or development objective of the country. The Social Progress Index (SPI) gives a broader understanding of the measurement of a region’s social progress, reflecting the progress that many individuals, families, communities and societies go through to achieve levels of social progress. higher and higher.

Besides the SPI, many other non-economic indices have been proposed in order to have a broader approach to measuring the country’s progress beyond economic measures.

THE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT INDEX is a people-centered measure of well-being. it highlights the relative progress of countries in terms of human well-being, mainly for countries where human development is at a low or medium level. The HDI mainly consists of three elements:

(1) GDP per capita
(2) Education factor
(3) Lifespan

Different aspects of a healthy society, such as environmental sustainability, personal rights and many other factors influencing the health of society were not taken into account in the HDI. The HDI is a useful benchmark for the poorest countries in the world.

BONHEUR NATIONAL BRUT (BNB) – BNB’s basic methodology is to survey citizens on their overall perception of their well-being. This approach is more subjective in nature and difficult in terms of converting the sense of well-being into specific components. For this very reason, it becomes difficult to compare results over time and between countries, as subjective perceptions are difficult to compare and to keep consistent.

YOUR BETTER LIFE INDEX is based on subjective measures of citizens’ perception of their own well-being, the YBL index is a fusion model integrating economic and social indicators. It is an advanced model compared to other models based on economic progress in particular. Although this model also gives a higher weight to economic indicators compared to social indicators.

The LEGATUM PROSPERITY INDEX covers social, economic and civil society indicators measuring the region’s progress in a more comprehensive way. It highlights the interdependence between economic and social development. This index combines both outcomes and input measures.

According to reports, the SPI validates the results related to social progress of various countries around the world. This proves a significant correlation between social progress and economic growth.

Although the comparison between SPI and GDP per capita highlights that higher income countries show that a similar level of social progress is achievable over a wide range of income levels. High level social progress at a relatively low income level is also possible. Such results prove that economic growth alone cannot be seen as the only way to achieve social progress. It was found that there is less correlation between the ease of doing business and social progress, indicating that the business environment of countries directly yields economic results but takes longer to show social progress.

Besides economic progress, the SPI also has a strong correlation with the HDI index; including the longevity of citizens and their level of education in a particular country. Although in high and middle income countries, a vital difference in social growth between countries with quite similar HDI was noticed. Countries with a high HDI showed variations due to poor performance on environmental indicators, gender equality, economical housing, etc. (the reasons responsible for this variation turned out to be exclusion from income and inclusion of personal security measures).

The social progress index does not only measure social progress in an integrated manner, it rather gives a bifurcated indexation on each of its components. In this way, it allows countries to assess, compare and plan separately for each component. Countries can also compare their selected indicator with other countries as a benchmark. This detailed evaluation of the components gives some remarkable results, critical for a country and its probable cause.

According to the latest reports available in the public domain on SPI, the following remarkable results have caught the attention of economists and development think tanks.

  • Countries in the mid-level economic development category address basic nutrition and health care better than high-income countries.
  • Regardless of income, affordable housing has been identified as a problem in all countries of the world.
  • Personal security has been shown to be better in high-income countries, and worse in middle-income countries than in poor countries.
  • Low- and middle-income countries have achieved commendable results in the area of ​​universal primary education. (although it does not certify the quality of teaching)
  • Access to information and communication has been found to be high in the countries of the high income group, as the cost of realizing the technology is quite high.
  • Countries’ health spending found no correlation with their GDP per capita. It was found that higher expenses resulted in better performance of the health sector.
  • The sustainability of ecosystems was found to be negatively correlated with GDP per capita, with the richest countries scoring the worst.
  • Low-income countries scored significantly lower than richer countries, but there is good component-level performance in the areas of personal rights, personal choice and freedom, and equity and freedom. inclusion.

Overall, the purpose of the Social Progress Index is to compare performance and motivate development between countries. It also allows for the comparison of valuable information, which can be used by various stakeholders to make better choices, prioritize investments and build implementation capacity to improve citizens’ standard of living. The Global Competitiveness Index and the Doing Business Index help economic decision-makers identify the critical policies and investments needed to increase their competitiveness and GDP per capita. Likewise, the Social Progress Index draws attention to the main areas for improving social progress.



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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