Saturday, April 13, 2013

Korea Ranks 11th on Social Progress Index

The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea - Korea Ranks 11th on Social Progress Index

Korea ranked 11th among 50 countries on a new index that attempts to gauge a country's social and environmental development. It scored 59.86 points out of a possible 100 on the Social Progress Index.

The index excludes economic factors like GDP and instead takes a social and environmental approach in determining a country's level of development.

The index was developed by Prof. Michael Porter of Harvard Business School and MIT economists, who analyzed data compiled by the World Health Organization, World Bank and other sources.

Sweden ranked first with a score of 64.81. Next were the U.K. (63.41), Switzerland (63.28), Canada (62.63), Germany (62.47) and the U.S. (61.56).

Japan took eighth place with 61.01 points and China 32nd with 47.92 points.

In terms of basic human needs, Korea ranked eighth, and in terms of foundation for well-being 12th. Korea received outstanding scores in terms of personal safety, availability of nutrition and basic medical care, and access to higher education but scored below average in sustainability of ecosystem and personal freedom and choice. / Apr. 12, 2013 13:01 KST

1 comment:

  1. Of course Sweden, Britain, and Switzerland have the best Social Progress Index (SPI) scores, because these countries have some of the highest GDPs per capita of the fifty countries in the index. It is no coincidence that the three lowest SPI scores – Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Uganda, have very low GDPs per capita. The best way to understand the Social Progress Index is therefore to control for GDP per capita. Corr Analytics did simple regression analysis on the Social Progress Index data to show that approximately 84% of the index is explained by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. Predictably, countries with large economies relative to their populations will have more wealth that can be channeled to basic necessities measured by the Social Progress Index.

    Therefore the simpler standard used by economists for decades — GDP per capita — works quite acceptably for well-being. Interestingly for development economists, when comparing the index to GDP per capita using loglinear regression, it shows that for countries below the mean GDP per capita ($16,030 in 50 countries sampled by the Social Progress Index), the positive effect of GDP per capita growth on social progress is very high. The effect after mean GDP per capita is still positive, but of a much lesser magnitude. Development funding, therefore, yields the highest social progress gains in relatively poorer countries.
    Adding the degree of democracy to the regression brings the explained variance of SPI to 87%. Democratic nations are better able to leverage GDP for basic necessities, because of effective voting coalitions of the economically disadvantaged.

    The theoretical range of the Social Progress Index is zero to 100, with 100 indicating the greatest possible provision of well-being. The actual range of the data is 32 (Ethiopia) to 65 (Sweden). Given the 33-point actual range, the effect of changes in GDP per capita and democracy are substantial. An increase of $10,000 in GDP per capita for the poorest country in the dataset yields an expected increase of 17.5 points on the Social Progress Index. That same $10,000 increase for the richest country yields only a 0.6 expected increase on the Social Progress Index. A change from pure dictatorship (autocracy) to full democracy yields an expected 7.5-point increase on the Social Progress Index.

    The regression also elucidates countries that are social performers and laggards given GDP per capita. Vietnam, Costa Rica, the Philippines, Britain, Bulgaria, and Argentina are the six highest performers given GDP per capita. With the exception of Vietnam, these countries are democratic. The UAE, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Kazakhstan, and Botswana are the six lowest performers on the Social Progress Index given GDP per capita. Most of the laggards are dictatorial or have pseudo-democratic forms of government.

    Graphs, tables, and data further illustrating the observations on SPI above are available at

    Anders Corr, Ph.D.