Ahmed Khudair Hussein – Director of the Social Studies Department at the Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies.

The Social Progress Index provides a results-based measure of a country’s well-being independent of economic indicators. It was first issued in 2013 to provide a comprehensive tool for measuring countries’ performance, stimulating progress, and improving working conditions by providing social data. The social progress index is distinguished from other measures related to development in the conceptual framework in terms of its focus on the non-economic dimensions of national performance, and a measurement approach based on results indicators.

The concept of social progress refers to the ability of society to meet human needs, lay the foundations that allow citizens and societies to enhance and maintain their quality of life, and create the right conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential. The approach to this indicator relies on a long series of work to build state indicators, and measure and evaluate various aspects of economic and social performance.

The SPI is distinguished from other measures of development on the non-economic dimensions of national performance and a measurement approach that relies on outcome indicators, rather than input measures. It also consists of three broad dimensions of social progress, and there the indicator expresses the extent to which a country participates in providing the social and environmental needs of its people, and determines this in terms of the country’s policy options, investment, and the ability of various stakeholders to implement various development policies. The index of social progress includes three broad components: basic human needs, foundations of well-being, and opportunities.

This paper sheds light on the identification of the social progress index and its characteristics, the purpose of its existence, and how to measure it, based on the data and indicators issued by the index. 

Dimensions and fields of social progress

The Social Progress Index covers three basic areas. Each area includes dimensions that include four components whose basic concepts are related to the questions we seek to answer according to the data that we will review in this paper as follows:

First: Basic human needs, which include the following:

  • Basic medical nutrition: It focuses on (mortality from infectious diseases, child mortality rate, child stunting, mortality rate, and undernutrition).
  • Water and Hygiene: Focuses on (access to improved sanitation, access to an improved water source, attributable mortality, sanitation, and hygiene)
  • Shelter: focuses on (deaths from air pollution, dissatisfaction with affordability of housing, access to electricity, use of clean fuels and technology for cooking).
  • Personal safety: It focuses on (people’s deaths, signs and transportation, perceived criminality, political assassinations, and torture).

Second: The foundations of well-being, which include the following:

  • Access to basic knowledge: focuses on (women without education, equal access to quality education, primary school enrollment, secondary educational attainment, and gender parity in secondary educational attainment).
  • Access to information: Focuses on (access to online governance, Internet users, management of media, and mobile subscriptions).
  • Health and Wellness: Focuses on (average age of 60, mortality from non-communicable diseases, equal access to quality health care, and access to basic health services).
  • Environmental quality: It focuses on (deaths from air pollution, deaths from exposure to lead, particulate pollution, and species protection).