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  • Writer's pictureRósbjörg Jónsdóttir

Highlights of SPI 2018

Source: Information from Social Progress Imperative:


  • Overall World improves across aggregate of 51 indicators of social progress but widespread deterioration in Rights and Inclusion measures –

  • Biggest gains in Africa and Asia –

  • US joins handful of countries with overall declines and marked decline in Rights and Inclusion –

  • UK shows decline in Inclusion post-Brexit

New data published today shows that there has been a significant decline in human rights and inclusion around the world. On Personal Rights (including Political Rights and Freedom of expression), 75 of the 146 ranked countries witnessed declines. On Inclusiveness (including acceptance of gays and lesbians and violence against minorities), 56 of the 146 ranked countries witnessed declines.

Overall the world is getting better, with 133 of the 146 countries seeing overall improvements in social progress, with the greatest gains being recorded in parts of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, including The Gambia and Nepal. The US, however, joins Turkey and Yemen in showing decline in its social progress score.

The 2018 Social Progress Index, compiled by the Social Progress Imperative a US-based nonprofit, ranks 146 countries’ social performance across five years (2014-18), using 51 indicators covering Nutrition, Shelter, Safety, Education, Health, as well as Rights and Inclusiveness.

The new data reveals:

  • Globally, Personal Rights have declined. The global average dropping from a score of 22/100 in 2014 to 61.34/100 in 2018. The US has dropped from 95.97/100 in 2014 to 92.15/100 to 2018, meaning its global ranking based on Personal Rights alone has fallen from 16th in 2014 to 31st in the world, below Spain, Italy and Chile.

  • Globally, Inclusiveness has declined. The global average dropping from a score of 25/100 in 2014 to 40.17/100 in 2018. The US has dropped from 67.88/100 to 61.49/100, driven by rising discrimination against minorities and widening gender inequality. Its global ranking on Inclusiveness has fallen from 21st in 2014 to 31st in the world, below Japan, Greece and Cuba.

  • But overall the World has improved. The population-weighted world score on the Social Progress Index rose from 61.80/100 in 2014 to 63.46/100 in 2018 – a 1.66 point increase. Globally, the biggest improvements were in shelter, access to information and communications, and access to advanced education, all of which improved by three or more points in the past five years.

  • Norway tops the 2018 Social Progress Index ranking scoring 90.26/100, boasting strong performance across all the components of the index. Norway has improved by 1.50 points since 2014, more than any of its Nordic neighbors. Central African Republic is at the bottom of the 2018 Social Progress Index (26.01/100, rank 146) but has improved by 2 points since 2014. The best performing G7 country is Japan (89.74/100, rank 6) followed by Germany (89.21/100, rank 9), UK and Canada, which all fall in the top tier of performance. France, Italy and the US follow, in the second tier. Although richer countries tend to perform better, the results are not completely explained by GDP per capita.

  • US among only 6 countries in the world to have fallen back overall. The US has dropped from 70/100 in 2014 to 84.78/100 in 2018. Now ranks below Slovenia and just above Czech Republic. Overall decline is driven by falls in Health, Education, Personal Safety, Personal Rights and Inclusiveness. Despite spending more on healthcare than any other country, its Health and Wellness (71.97, rank 37) scores are comparable to Ecuador’s (71.94, rank 38). And the US school system on (score of 91.87, ranked 50th on Access to Basic Knowledge) is producing results on par with Uzbekistan (92.10, rank 48).

Richest countries progress sluggish; poorer improving faster. All of the 30 highest ranked countries on the Social Progress Index are high income, but just two of them, Luxembourg and South Korea, experienced significant improvement since 2014.

In contrast, the countries that have improved the most over the past five years are low and lower –middle income: Nepal, Ethiopia, Ghana and Pakistan among biggest gainers.

All detail information about the index to be found on

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