Social Progress Index (SPI) - A Complete Overview of Social Progress

The Social Progress Index is published by a non-profit entity called Social Progress Imperative, which is based out of the United States of America (USA). This article shares information on the mission, indicators used for rankings, some of the major findings of SPI and criticisms of this indicator. India ranked 117 out of 163 in Social Progress Index 2020.

Aspirants can find information on the structure and other important details related to the IAS Exam, in the linked article.

Social Progress Index – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

Social Progress Index – Mission

To improve the lives of the people across the globe with particular emphasis on least well off people; by providing a robust, innovative and holistic measurement tool.

Social Progress Index (SPI) – Ranking Indicators

Social Progress Index ranks the social performance of 149 countries over 51 different indicators. Some of the most prominent indicators are listed below.

  1. Health
  2. Personal Rights
  3. Inclusiveness
  4. Education
  5. Nutrition
  6. Shelter
  7. Safety
  8. Personal freedom
  9. Sanitation

Social Progress Index – 3 Dimensions of Social Progress

In this Index, the social performance of a country is assessed independently of economic factors. The index is primarily based on social and environmental indicators capturing 3 major dimensions of social progress. The 3 dimensions are listed below.

  1. Opportunity
  2. Foundations of Well Being
  3. Basic Human Needs

There are four components for each dimension. Also, there are three or four specific outcome indicators for each component as well. Also, there are two special features of the Social Progress Index which are- the exclusion of economic variables and the use of outcome measures rather than inputs.

Social Progress Index 2020 (India) – Key Findings:

India scored 56.80 out of 100 in Social Progress Index 2020; with a rank of 117 among 163 nations. The table below list down the performance of India in each dimension:

Social Progress Index Dimension Score
Basic Human Needs 66.24
Foundations of Well Being 50.15
Opportunity 54.01

India performed better in the following components:

  1. Nutrition and Basic Medical Care
  2. Personal Rights
  3. Shelter
  4. Access to Information and Communications
  5. Access to Basic Knowledge

The components where India is yet to improve:

  1. Environmental Quality
  2. Inclusiveness
  3. Health and Wellness
  4. Personal Freedom and Choice
  5. Access to Advanced Education

Social Progress Index (SPI) 2019 – Major Findings & Conclusions

SPI compiled ranking of countries spread over 6 years from 2014 to 2019. The relative performance of each nation is displayed by this index. It is based on the works of renowned economists Amartya Sen, Joseph Stiglitz and Douglass North. 

  1. As per current trends, SPI concludes that the world will not be able to meet the targets of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) 2030.
  2. As per current trends, SPI forecasts that the SDG goals will be achieved only by 2073.
  3. The progress in 17 Sustainable Development Goals is extremely low.
  4. The world is underperforming on 8 out of the 12 major sections of the SPI.
  5. Norway is the best performing country
  6. South Sudan is the bottom-most ranked country

Social Progress Index 2019 – Biggest Areas of Underperformance of the World 

  1. Personal Rights – Out of 149 ranked countries, 91 countries have seen a deterioration. The countries that witnessed the major fall were Turkey, Serbia, Poland (in Europe) Columbia, Nicaragua (In Latin America) Mali (In Africa).
  2. Nutrition
  3. Sanitation
  4. Basic Medical care
  5. Shelter
  6. Water

Social Progress Index 2019 – Biggest Areas of Improvement

Among all the ranked countries, the biggest improvements were in some indicators which are listed below.

  1. Access to advanced education
  2. Access to Information & Communication
  3. Water & Sanitation
  4. Shelter

Social Progress Index 2019 – Suggestions for Improvement

Focus on indicators where GDP is not a binding constraint. Some of the focus areas that needs urgent improvements are listed below

  1. Access to clean fuel and technology for cooking
  2. Access to basic water and sanitation.

Criticism of Social Progress Index (SPI)

Some of the criticism faced by the Social Progress Index are listed below

  1. The index is more business inclusive than inclusive capitalism.
  2. One of the criticisms is that the index ignores psychological well being, life satisfaction which is subjective.
  3. Some important dimensions are not included in this indicator, such as transportation infrastructure, the effective judicial system in a country, and concentration of wealth in the top 1% of the population.

Social Progress Index – UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

Candidates can find the general pattern of the UPSC Civil Service Exam by visiting the IAS Syllabus page.

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