For roughly a quarter of a century, the UN has put out a report on how countries are improving or declining each year. The dense report is boiled down into a single index that compares countries against each other and themselves. Each report is followed by criticisms about what is included and left out.
This year is no different, but there is a new twist.
Enter the Social Progress Index. Consider it to be a competitor to the UN’s Human Development Index. It took tries to determine how well countries are doing with a notable difference: it does not take into account the GDP’s of countries.
As a result, countries like Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which are bolstered by oil revenues, do much worse on the Social Progress Index than the Human Development Index. That major difference is exactly why economic measures like GDP are excluded, says Michael Green, Executive Director of the Social Progress Imperative, the group behind the index.
“There are limits in what the HDI is measuring,” said Green to Humanosphere. “If you include GDP in your well-being measure, you are then mixing up the economic and the social.”