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Global Index: Overview

2021 Social Progress Index sizzle video


At the Social Progress Imperative, we define 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. Improving quality of life is a complex task and past efforts to measure progress simply haven’t created a sufficiently nuanced picture of what a successful society looks like.

That’s why we created the Social Progress Index. Rather than emphasizing traditional measurements of success like income and investment, we measure 53 social and environmental indicators to create a clearer picture of what life is really like for everyday people. The index doesn’t measure people’s happiness or life satisfaction, focusing instead on actual life outcomes in areas from shelter and nutrition to rights and education. This exclusive focus on measurable outcomes makes the index a useful policy tool that tracks changes in society over time.

We divide these indicators across three broad dimensions of social progress: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. Within each dimension, there are four components that further divide the indicators into thematic categories. Our diverse selection of indicators allows for granular analysis of the specific underpinnings of social progress in each country, while the broad categories of the index framework help us to better understand global and regional trends.

The product of careful refinement, the 2021 global Social Progress Index is our best yet. As increasing wealth and advancing technology create new opportunities for progress, the index provides decision-makers with an unparalleled tool to seize this moment and improve lives around the world.

Download 2021 Executive Summary

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