Australia Ranks Fourth in Global Social Progress Index
5 July 2016 at 9:54 am
Australia has ranked fourth in an annual global social progress index behind Denmark, Canada and Finland which topped the list.
Australia scored 89.13 points in a tight contest where Finland scored top with 90.09, in the list of the world’s top 12 countries considered to have Very High Social Progress.
The Skoll Foundation’s 2016 Social Progress Index covered 133 countries in total with 53 indicators of social and environmental outcomes.
The report said economic growth was not the sole determinant of quality of life. The 2016 Index found that while social progress – which included measures of opportunity, healthcare, education and tolerance – did tend to rise as GDP increased, economic wealth on its own did not explain social progress outcomes.
Australia performed best in Basic Human Needs and Water and Sanitation, and had most opportunity to improve on the Shelter component.
In the Foundations of Wellbeing dimension, Australia scored highest on Access to Basic Knowledge but lagged on the Health and Wellness component. In the Opportunity dimension, Australia was strongest on Personal Rights and had the most room to improve on Tolerance and Inclusion.
The report described social progress as the capacity of a society to “meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential”.
The United Kingdom rated ninth followed by New Zealand in 10th place. The United States was ranked outside the top list at 19th.
According to the index, the three greatest areas of US underperformance were on measures of Environmental Quality, Health and Wellness and Personal Safety. Despite spending the most on healthcare per capita of any country in the world, the US ranks poorly on Health and Wellness (69th), below countries including Uganda (42nd), Tunisia (28th) and Slovenia (47th).
“New Zealand achieved a level of social progress (88.70) almost as high as Norway (88.45) at a GDP per capita that is half that of Norway (US$32,816 (A$43,821) versus US$63,421 (A$84,696)),” the report summary said.
“Breaking down this average across dimensions and components of social progress there is a wide variation in how countries are performing. The world scores 73.17 in Basic Human Needs and 67.24 on the Foundations of Wellbeing dimensions, but just 48.24 on Opportunity.”
The report said that creating a society with opportunity for all citizens remained an elusive goal that many nations had failed to achieve.
“The index identifies a wide range of areas in which the US is underperforming compared to countries with a similar GDP per capita,” it said.
In December 2015 Australia was ranked second in the world for human development in a report by the United Nations.
The Human Development Report by the United Nations Development Program, found that Australia excelled in the areas of life expectancy, expected years of schooling and gross national income per capita.
Only Norway received a higher Human Development Index ranking.