European Nations Outside Euro Lead Social-Progress Index

Sweden, the U.K. and Switzerland took the top three positions in a gauge of 50 countries assessed on wellbeing as measured by social and environmental indicators.

The European countries, none of which are members of the continent’s single currency, led the list that was created by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter and released today in Washington. Canada, Germany and the U.S. were the next three, followed by Australia, Japan, France and Spain.

The index seeks to assess countries on indicators that don’t include economic criteria, and the researchers chose a sample of nations that represent three-quarters of the world’s population. China, the world’s most populous country, was listed 32 -- just after Jordan -- while India, the second-most populous, was at no. 43, one place ahead of Senegal.

“Social progress depends on the policy choices, investments and implementation capabilities of multiple stakeholders -- government, civil society, and business,” according to the text of the report. “By informing and motivating those stakeholders to work together and develop a more holistic approach to development, we are confident that social progress will accelerate.”

Of the 50 countries in the index, the seven lowest are all in Africa, with Ethiopia at the bottom. The next lowest were Nigeria, Uganda, Mozambique, Rwanda and Kenya.

Porter, a Washington-based research group called the Social Progress Imperative, and economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology assessed the countries on three criteria: basic human needs, social infrastructure, and opportunity. They used data from the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The report is “only the first step,” said Brizio Biondi-Morra, chairman of the Social Progress Imperative. “It is a starting hypothesis for debate and empirical examination. The real benefits of this project will come as the model is tested over time, to yield robust and practical lessons for changemakers of all sectors.”

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