The United States ranks 16th in the recently released 2015 Social Progress Index, which assesses and scores countries worldwide across three categories: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. The US was 21st, 35th, and 8th in these smaller categories, respectively.
The US also ranks 55th in maternal mortality, 32nd in early marriage, defined as the percentage of women who are married between the ages of 15 and 19; 14th in satisfied demand for contraception, with 85% of women able to access contraception if they wish; and 15th in acceptance for the queer community.
The SPI was created in response to the use of GDP as the main measure to judge a country’s success. Michael Green, co-author of Philanthrocapitalism and SPI executive director, is adament that GDP “shouldn’t be a guide to all decision-making.” (The economist who invented the concept of GDP has himself written that a nation’s welfare can “scarcely be inferred” by using it as an indicator.
“GDP tells us quite a lot about a country’s progress,” Steve Almond, one of the authors of the SPI, said, “but it’s definitely not the whole story.”
The SPI was first brainstormed at the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Philanthropy and Social Investing. The Index’s methodology was created by Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School with help from from The Economist’s New York Bureau Chief Matthew Bishop, Hernando de Soto of the Institute for Liberty and Democracy, Judith Rodin of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Scott Stern of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Media Resources: Social Progress Index, TED; CNN 4/8/15