Norway is the World’s Most Socially Progressive Country

Researcher Michael Green, who is leading the research, thinks GDP isn’t the best way to measure a good society. His alternative The Social Progress Index, measures things like basic human needs and opportunity.

According to Green, GDP only accounts for a country’s economic performance, not the happiness or well-being of its citizens. 

Social Progress Index, in this frame, determines what it means to be a good society according to three dimensions: Basic Human Needs (food, water, shelter, safety); Foundations of Wellbeing (basic education, information, health and a sustainable environment); and Opportunity (do people have rights, freedom of choice, freedom from discrimination, and access to higher education?)

Together, these 12 components form the Social Progress framework. The researchers evaluated them using data from a wide variety of international sources o assess 133 countries to come up with a ranking of the world’s most socially progressive countries — and this year, for the first time, an overall progress score for the world. 

Norway topped the list this year by having exceptional scores across all three dimensions, having excellent access to water and sanitation, doing very well on basic education and offering great personal freedom and choice. 

– Norway has a high GDP per capita, thanks to its abundance of natural resources. But this isn’t always the case. Many resource-rich countries — from Kuwait to Angola — don’t share the benefits of wealth so well and show low social progress relative to their GDP per capita. It may be the case that, because natural resource wealth doesn’t require the same investments in human and social capital as broad-based economic growth, wrote Green. 

He also added that Norway should be a role model for other resource-rich countries.


In this clip from 2014, Michael Green explains the social progress index

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