What makes social progress: UAE beats other Middle East countries in the Social Progress Index
Social progress is determined by how society meets the basic human need of its citizens (File/AFP)
The United Arab Emirates ranks top among the Middle East countries in the 2014 Social Progress Index, published by the non-profit Social Progress Imperative.
The UAE, which is 37th on the global list is followed closely by Kuwait in the 40th position, Saudi Arabia 65th, Jordan 75th, Lebanon 83rd, Egypt 84th, Iraq 118th and Yemen 125th.
Among the 132 countries ranked, the top five are: New Zealand, Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands and Norway. The Social Progress Index 2014 ranks 132 countries based on their social and environmental performance.
Economic growth does not always result in social progress, according to the index, released last week at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship.
Higher GDP per capita does bring benefits, particularly on ‘basic human needs’, but rising incomes do not guarantee improvement on ‘ecosystem sustainability’, ‘health and wellness’ and ‘opportunity’, the report said.
The US is 16th on the list, behind Canada (7th) and the UK (13th). Russia ranks 80th, below the Ukraine (62nd) and Georgia (66th). Brazil (46th) is the top of the BRICS, followed by South Africa (69), Russia (80), China (90), and India (102).
Kuwait is third from the top in terms of GDP among the 132 countries, while Saudi Arabia ranks first among the 132 countries in lowest suicide rate (deaths per 100,000) and Lebanon ranks 25th in terms of life expectancy.
Jordan has lowest homicide rate in the world and Iraq ranks 12th among the 132 countries in lowest suicide rate.
The Social Progress Index, created by a team led by Professor Michael E Porter of Harvard Business School, is designed as a complement to GDP and other economic indicators to provide a more holistic understanding of countries’ overall performance.
Social progress is defined as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens to improve their lives, and create the conditions for individuals and communities to meet their full potential.
Professor Porter said: “Until now, the assumption has been that there is a direct relationship between economic growth and wellbeing. However, the Social Progress Index finds that all economic growth is not equal. While higher GDP per capita is correlated with social progress, the connection is far from automatic. For similar levels of GDP, we find that some countries achieve much higher levels of social progress than others.”
“Deloitte is collaborating globally with the Social Progress Imperative and others because we believe business has a role to play in helping address and solve the world’s critical issues and the Index is a tool that can ignite collective action from business, government and society,” said Omar Fahoum, chairman and chief executive of Deloitte Middle East.
The index does show a broad positive correlation between economic performance, (measured in GDP per capita) and social progress. Countries with higher incomes tend to enjoy greater social progress: New Zealand ($25,858 GDP per capita) ranks highest in the index, while Chad ($1,870 GDP per capita) ranks lowest.
For lower income countries, economic growth will not necessarily result in significantly improved social progress. For example, on ‘Personal Safety’, it’s only when countries reach high-income status that homicide rates, violent crime and traffic deaths seem to significantly reduce, but even then there is a wide spread of variation between these high-income nations. Until then the improvements in ‘Personal Safety’, between low -and middle- income countries, remains stubbornly limited.
The index uses the World Bank definition of GDP: “GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP). PPP GDP is gross domestic product converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates. An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GDP as the US dollar has in the United States."
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