Social progress — as measured in terms of basic human needs, well-being, and opportunity — remains uneven among as well as within countries, a report from the Social Progress Imperative finds.
Based on fifty social and environmental indicators, including access to opportunity, health care, and education, the 2018 Social Progress Index ranked Norway first out of a hundred and forty-six countries, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Denmark, and Finland. The United States ranked twenty-fifth, down from eighteenth in 2017, while the Central African Republic, Chad, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and the Democratic Republic of Congo ranked at the bottom of the list.
According to the report's executive summary (15 pages, PDF), the population-weighted world score on the Social Progress Index, which was launched in 2014, has risen from 61.80 to 63.46. Global average scores have improved on nine components — access to information and communications (+6.27), shelter (+4.75), access to advanced education (+3.16), health and wellness (+2.90), nutrition and basic medical care (+2.79), water and sanitation (+1.61), environmental quality (+1.53), personal freedom and choice (+1.06), and access to basic knowledge (+0.64) — while falling in the areas of personal rights (-3.88) and inclusiveness (-1.08) and staying flat in the area of personal safety (+0.17).
The study also found that the U.S. has consistently underperformed on the social progress front relative to its GDP per capita — the only country among the leading economies in the world to do so. It also is one of only six countries — exclusive of nations in conflict, for which data is unavailable — that have seen a decline in social progress since 2014, with the most significant declines in inclusiveness (-6.39), personal safety (-6.20), and personal rights (-3.82).