New Zealand tops social progress index, world's biggest economies trail
By Astrid Zweynert
LONDON, April 3 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - New Zealand came first in a global index published on Thursday that ranks countries by social and environmental performance rather than economic output in a drive to make social progress a priority for politicians and businesses.
The Social Progress Index (SPI) rates 132 countries on more than 50 indicators, including health, sanitation, shelter, personal safety, access to information, sustainability, tolerance and inclusion and access to education.
The SPI asks questions such as whether a country can satisfy its people's basic needs and whether it has the infrastructure and capacity to allow its citizens to improve the quality of their lives and reach their full potential.
"The index shows that economic growth does not automatically lead to social progress," Michael Green, executive director of the Social Progress Imperative, a non-profit organisation that publishes the index, told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"If we are to tackle problems such as poverty and inequality, it shows that measuring economic growth alone is not enough."
New Zealand received high scores for personal rights and freedom, internet access and school enrolment. It was followed in the Top 10 by Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Denmark and Australia.
Some of the world's largest economies did not fare so well, with Germany in 12th place, the United Kingdom in 13th, Japan 14th, the United States 16th and France 20th. All of them except Germany scored poorly on environmental sustainability.
The United States also ranked poorly on health and wellness - despite being a top spender on healthcare - and on access to basic knowledge, with just 92 percent of children in school. Continuación...