Socially Progressive: Proud to be a New Zealander

The Social Progress Imperative, a U.S.-based non-profit that focuses on advancing global progress, released a new index last week that ranked 132 countries based on a variety of indicators, including basic human needs, foundations of well-being and opportunity.

According to the Social Progress Index (SPI) 2014, the most socially progressive country is New Zealand in terms of personal rights and freedom, Internet access and school enrollment. It was followed by Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands and Norway.

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Despite gross domestic product (GDP) rankings, many of the world’s largest economies didn’t make the SPI’s top 10. The U.S., which has the second-largest GDP per capita on the list, ranked only 16th in social progress due to room for improvement in personal safety, ecosystem sustainability, and tolerance and inclusion.

“The index shows that economic growth does not automatically lead to social progress,” Michael Green, executive director of the Social Progress Imperative, told Reuters. “If we are to tackle problems such as poverty and inequality, it shows that measuring economic growth alone is not enough.”