The Social Progress Index is the first comprehensive framework for measuring social progress that is independent of GDP, but complementary to it. The Index provides a systematic, empirical foundation to guide strategy for inclusive growth. It was first implemented at the national level in 2014, and has been enhanced each year and expanded to regions, cities, and individual communities.
The Social Progress Index incorporates four key design principles:
- Exclusively social and environmental indicators: our aim is to measure social progress directly, rather than utilize economic proxies. By excluding economic indicators, we can, for the first time, rigorously and systematically analyze the relationship between economic development (measured for example by GDP per capita) and social development. Prior efforts to move “beyond GDP” have comingled social and economic indicators, making it difficult to disentangle cause and effect.
- Outcomes not inputs: our aim is to measure the outcomes that matter to the lives of real people, not the inputs. For example, we want to measure a country’s health and wellness achieved, not how much effort is expended nor how much the country spends on healthcare.
- Holistic and relevant to all countries: our aim is to create a holistic measure of social progress that encompasses the many aspects of health of societies. Most previous efforts have focused on the poorest countries, for understandable reasons. But knowing what constitutes a healthy society for any country, including higher-income countries, is indispensable in charting a course for less-prosperous societies to get there.
- Actionable: the Index aims to be a practical tool that will help leaders and practitioners in government, business and civil society to implement policies and programs that will drive faster social progress. To achieve that goal, we measure outcomes in a granular way that focuses on specific areas that can be implemented directly. The Index is structured around 12 components and 52 distinct indicators. The framework allows us to not only provide an aggregate country score and ranking, but also to allow granular analyses of specific areas of strength and weakness. Transparency of measurement using a comprehensive framework allows change-makers to identify and act upon the most pressing issues in their societies.