Colombia boy mine worker development Josh Rushing/Flickr

Why Social Progress Matters

Economic growth has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and improved the lives of many more over the last half-century. Yet it is increasingly evident that a model of human development based on economic progress alone is incomplete.

CAMBRIDGE – Economic growth has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and improved the lives of many more over the last half-century. Yet it is increasingly evident that a model of human development based on economic progress alone is incomplete. A society which fails to address basic human needs, equip citizens to improve their quality of life, protect the environment, and provide opportunity for many of its citizens is not succeeding. Inclusive growth requires both economic and social progress.

The pitfalls of focusing on GDP alone are evident in the findings of the 2015 Social Progress Index, launched on April 9. The 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. It is the most comprehensive framework developed for measuring social progress, and the first to measure social progress independently of GDP.

Drawing on 52 indicators of a country’s social performance, 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. The SPI thus provides a systematic, empirical foundation to guide strategy for inclusive growth.

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