That’s the conclusion of the latest Social Progress Index, released since 2011 to measure the success of 168 nations, using data to influence policies and investments all over the world. The survey reveals the best countries for health, safety, education, rights, and quality of the environment, by crossing key indicators and giving a score for each nation.
Overall, the major finding is that social progress is advancing across the globe: the population-weighted world average score has improved by 4.63 points in the past decade (to 65.05/100). 147 nations recorded a better score than they did a decade ago. Only four countries got a worse score: the United States, Brazil, Syria, and South Sudan.
According to the outcome ranking, Norway is the world’s most progressive country, with Finland and Denmark coming second and third respectively. The United Kingdom was placed 18th, and the US got the 24th.
Despite this overall progress, researchers alert advance remains slow and uneven. Also, the correlation between SPI score and sustainability has been weakening over time, although achieving sustainability is tied to improving key areas of social progress.
The index shows that there are countries that have been highly effective at improving living standards and quality of life while emitting more modest levels of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to other higher-income countries that are developing at the expense of the environment.
The report concludes: “If every country achieved emissions targets comparable with the most sustainable country at their level of development, the world would achieve a sustainable level of GHG emissions”.
Source: Social Progress Index (SPI 2021)