Social Progress Index (SPI) is a new framework used to measure the state of social progress of a country or a region. It has 52 measurement indicators defined within 3 major aspects, these are, Basic human needs, Foundations of well-being and Opportunity. It basically defines what it means and what it takes to be a good society.
On the other hand, GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has been used all this while as the indicator of the state of development achieved by countries. Using just GDP as the yardstick to measure the growth of nations may have to end soon since it is found to be detrimental to social justice and the environment.
GDP is a tool to gauge economic growth. Limiting a country’s measure of growth and competitiveness to just economic indicators creates an incomplete picture. It often turns a society in to a kind of engine to generate more GDP. It is a flawed indicator because it ignores environment, counts bombs and prisons as progress. It can’t count happiness or community and void of fairness and justice.
SPI is a social progress framework that provides indicators to measure real achievements of governments in delivering quality of life and social justice to the people. It should be deemed equally important as GDP since it provides better way to measure our society and their progress. This has been made possible by the availability of technology to gather and analyze data like never before. SPI is also applicable at the regional, state, district and organizational levels. In 2015 the European Commission decided to roll out regional SPIs across Europe. Companies, such as Coca-Cola and Natura, are using the SPI to develop their social investment strategies and relationships with public and private partners.
SPI would drive authorities to address basic human needs, quality of life, protection of the environment, and provide opportunity for citizens to achieve the best off their potential. It will get the governments, businesses and civil society to work together for social progress. This is possible with SPI as it is capable of measuring what businesses, nonprofits, charities, volunteers and civil organizations really contribute to the society. It would encourage businesses to not just compete based on economic contribution but contribution to social progress. More importantly it brings the possibility of holding politicians to account for really improving peoples lives.
In a nutshell, SPI would help to re-frame the view on development so that it is not just about GDP alone but inclusive, sustainable growth that brings real improvements in peoples lives. Imbalance between economic growth and social progress leads to political instability and society filled with anger and conflicts. SPI offers citizens and leaders a better understanding of how their country is developing. This will help governments with distribution of wealth, societies create stronger communities, and enable people to lead fulfilling lives.