Three Core Basic Components for Any Nation’s Path to Progress

Social Progress Index is a comprehensive inclusive growth gauge that complements GDP


“The 2015 Social Progress index (SPI), created in collaboration with Scott Stern of MIT, and the nonprofit Social Progress Imperative, measures the performance of 133 countries on various dimensions of social and environmental performance,” Michael Porter tells us (“Why Social Progress Matters” -Project Syndicate-).

It is the most comprehensive framework developed for measuring social progress, and the first to measure it independently of GDP. “The world is overly obsessed by GDP statistics as a defining measure of progress.

There was a need for something in addition to GDP, to give us a more holistic measure of inclusive growth, thus the SPI was born,” Steve Almond from Deloitte notes.

The SPI examines three different component parts of a country’s progress,”  Bruce Rogers adds (“The Social Progress Index Seeks To Redefine Economic Success Measures” -Forbes-):

1.   Social and environmental conditions, including a society’s ability to meet the basic needs of its citizens like water, sanitation, shelter and basic medical care.

2.   A society’s ability to both sustain itself and provide systems and infrastructure for things like secondary schools, access to the Internet and mobile tools.

3.   The level of opportunity and upward mobility a society offers:

  • Personal rights
  • Freedom of speech
  • Tolerance
  • Inclusion and access to advanced tertiary education

“In all, there are 52 different indicators across these three dimensions, and importantly, all are focused on outcomes. It doesn’t matter how much money you spend on healthcare: what matters is how well, how healthy your citizens are,” Rogers under- scores (Forbes).

“The SPI offers a practical tool for government and business leaders to benchmark country performance and prioritize those areas where social improvement is most needed,” Porter explains (PS).

A striking finding is that GDP is far from being the sole determinant of social progress.

Costa Rica has achieved a higher level of social progress than Italy, with barely a third of Italy’s per capita GDP.

New Zealand and Senegal are far more successful at translating their economic growth into social progress than for example, the US and Nigeria.

Many of the fast-growing emerging economies, including China and India, have also not yet been able to attain the level of social progress that their economic progress enables.

Focusing on social progress leads to better development strategies and builds political support for the controversial steps sometimes needed to in- crease prosperity. This year, the European Commission will roll out regional SPIs across Europe. “GDP has been the benchmark guiding economic development for more than a half-century. The SPI is intended to complement (not replace) it as a core metric of national performance,” Porter concludes (PS).

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Luis Gallardo
Luis Gallardo
Luis Gallardo is a global brand and marketing leader and expert in the areas of strategic brand management, brand engagement, brand expression, marketing, communications, business development, and reputation management. Former managing director of global brand & marketing at Deloitte, Luis provided leadership to Deloitte's member firm network of more than three thousand marketing and communications professionals. Author of the book: Brands & Rousers, The Holistic System to Foster High-Performing Businesses, Brands and Careers. Luis is the founder of Thap Group, a multinational consultancy focused on brand, marketing and communications strategy, and he sits on the advisory board of several high-growth organizations.

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