If you’re feeling whiplashed from the mid-week collision of good and bad economic news, you’re not alone.
On Thursday, good news about the world’s largest economy (United States) ran right into not-so-good news about the world’s second largest economy (China). Economic indicators suggested China’s economy might be slowing faster than anyone expected.
There’s a New Index in Town… About five years ago, the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council proposed a new index be developed, one that would “increase the impact that social entrepreneurs, business leaders, and policy makers can have in the world.” The general idea was the new index would measure social progress and spur competition between nations to improve the environment for social innovation in much the way the Global Competitiveness Index assesses the drivers of economic productivity and prosperity and identifies nations that are most competitive.
Just 48 months later, the Social Progress Index (SPI) was born. The beta version of the index debuted in 2013 and focused on measuring the extent to which 50 countries met the non-economic needs of their citizens. The 2014 SPI gauged 54 social, health, and environmental factors across 132 countries, considering only outputs (like literacy) and not inputs (like spending on education). When the numbers were tallied, New Zealand was number one – even though it’s in 25th place when measured by GDP per person (SPI, pg 62).
According to The Economist, when the results of the SPI are compared with a country’s GDP per person, its value truly becomes apparent. The publication quoted Michael Porter, a professor at Harvard Business School, who said, “There is a view that economic development and social progress go hand in hand. That’s true on average, but not in particular.” For example, Costa Rica and Iran have similar GDPs, but Iran falls far lower on the scale of social progress. Brazil and Kuwait are about equal in terms of social progress, although Kuwait’s GDP per person is multiples greater than that of Brazil.
So, how did the Canada do? We ranked 7th! Of issues covered by the Basic Human Needs Dimension, Canada does best in areas including Nutrition and Basic Medical Care and has the greatest opportunity to improve human wellbeing by focusing more on Shelter. Of issues covered by the Foundations of Wellbeing Dimension, Canada excels at providing building blocks for people’s lives such as Access to Basic Knowledge but would benefit from greater investment in Ecosystem Sustainability. Of issues covered by the Opportunity Dimension, Canada outperforms in providing opportunities for people to improve their position in society and scores highly in Personal Freedom and Choice yet falls short in Access to Advanced Education.
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”
–Vince Lombardi, former Coach of the Green Bay Packers