7th October 2020

2020 Social Progress Index results

  • The 2020 Index ranks 163 countries’ social performance over the last ten years, based on 50 separate criteria. As a whole, the world is improving. Since 2011, the world average SPI score increased from 60.63 to 64.24, with the greatest gains in Access to Information and Communications, Access to Advanced Education, Shelter and Water and Sanitation. However, there are declines over the last ten years in Personal Rights and Inclusiveness. Global progress has stagnated on Personal Safety and only modestly improved in Health and Wellness, Personal Freedom and Choice. Virtually no progress has been made on Environmental Quality.
  • This pace of improvement is not quick enough to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to Social Progress Imperative projections, based on current trends, the world won’t achieve the SDGs until 2082. Worse, the Covid-19 pandemic and the accompanying economic crisis could set the world back by a further decade, pushing SDG fulfilment out to 2092–62 years behind schedule.


  • The world scores best on Nutrition and Basic Medical Care (84.63), Shelter (77.09), Water and Sanitation (74.72), and Access to Basic Knowledge (75.18). The world scores worst on Environmental Quality (36.87) and Inclusiveness (39.25), both of which lag far behind all other components of the Index.
  • The world has improved dramatically on Access to Information and Communications (+21.61). Other material improvements include: Access to Advanced Education (+7.45), Shelter (+6.10), and Water and Sanitation (+5.57).
  • Norway ranks first in the world on social progress, with South Sudan at the bottom of the list. The fastest progress over the past decade is among developing countries, including The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Nepal.
  • The US is the only G7 country to go backwards on social progress and one of only three countries that have declined over the past decade, along with Brazil and Hungary.
  • Developing countries are catching up. Since 2011 the variation in Index scores has fallen 12.3%. Rates of convergence are higher than that of GDP per capita.
  • GDP is not destiny. Many countries underperform on social progress relative to their GDP, but other perform much better than their income would suggest is possible or likely. The world must learn from these countries to accelerate progress more widely.

Why these findings matter

  • The complexities of the 21st century require new measures of progress. Relying only on a country’s wealth or GDP as a measure creates an incomplete picture of human and societal development. Moreover, increasingly we realize the getting rich will not solve current social challenges. To drive sustainable and equitable growth, we need to focus on measurements which go beyond GDP.
  • The Social Progress Index is changing the way we address social challenges. Acting as a roadmap, the Social Progress Index can help enable leaders – across business, government and civil society – to systematically identify a strategy towards responsible and inclusive growth through prioritizing the most pressing needs of their communities.
  • With this insight businesses can better support governments and non-profits in finding solutions to fill those gaps. Social challenges also present opportunities for companies that understand sustainable change can be met through innovative products and services. Financial institutions and impact investment groups have begun applying the Social Progress Index to understand risk and drive capital towards social investments.

More information here.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic