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Social Progress Imperative: World is at Risk of the First Social Progress Recession in 2023

Social Progress Imperative

Widespread Retreat in Personal Rights Leads Sustained Decline in Social Progress

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLOMBIA, UNITED STATES, September 27, 2022 / -- Social Progress Imperative: According to the 2022 Social Progress Index, there is significant risk that the world’s social progress will actually retreat in 2023, leading to the first-ever global “social progress recession.” The index is published by the Social Progress Imperative, a US-based non-profit.

The 2022 Social Progress Index®, one of the world’s largest curated collections of social and environmental data, helps us understand how people across the globe are really living and who is being left behind. The Social Progress Index was designed by a team led by Prof. Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School and Prof. Scott Stern at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

The 2022 Social Progress Index® uses its 12 components and 60 indicators to measure the social performance of 169 countries fully and an additional 27 countries partially, covering 99.97% of the world's population.

The results of the Index reveal that while the world is getting better in terms of social progress, the rate of progress has slowed significantly, and a sustained decline will lead to the first-ever “social progress recession” in 2023. In the past five years, since 2017, the rate of progress has nearly halved, and last year, the world only improved by 0.37 points, indicating stagnation. Notably, the full impacts of Covid-19 on social progress across the world are not yet known.

The results highlight that since 2011:

* The United States' social progress has stalled, and despite its wealth and reputation, at 25th place America is doing a poor job of delivering a good standard of living to its people.
* The United Kingdom is one of only four countries to see a steady decline in social progress since 2011, alongside Venezuela, Libya and Syria.
* This has been a lost decade for key emerging markets such as Brazil and Turkey where social progress has largely stagnated.
* China and India have seen significant improvement, but both countries are held back by lack of progress on rights, inclusiveness and environmental quality.

WORLD DECLINE IS LED BY RETREATING RIGHTS 111 countries (66%) have declined in rights since 2011, including three of the G7 countries - US, UK and Canada.

Declines in the United States and United Kingdom Signal Broader Social and Economic Effects

The US ranks 46th in the world on rights. This puts it behind countries that include South Africa and Argentina. Where we see this play out most prominently is with the freedom to assemble peacefully -where it's 88th / 169, in political rights - where it’s fallen to 54th, down from 36th since 2017 and in freedom of discussion where it's 29th in the world. The US is 33rd in the world on inclusiveness - where this plays out most is with discrimination and violence against minorities where its ranked 102nd in the world.

This decline is before the impact we are likely to see from the overturn of Roe vs. Wade, the increase of anti LGBTQ+ bills and the implementation of voter suppression laws.

The United States spends significantly more per capita on healthcare than any other OECD country, yet it ranks 44th on Nutrition and Basic Medical Care. It also ranks 73rd in Maternal Mortality, which precedes the overturn of Roe vs. Wade. There is also stagnation in Health and Wellness and a decline in Access to Basic Knowledge, indicating early impact of Covid-19.

The United Kingdom has experienced a lost decade of social progress with the impact of austerity measures following the 2008 financial crisis, and Brexit, apparent in the data in every area, from education to healthcare, to rights and tolerance. The United Kingdom, ranks 19th in the world. It performs particularly poorly in freedom of peaceful assembly where it’s 80th, down from 49th a decade ago, and in freedom of religion, where it's ranked 70th down, from the 21st spot a decade ago. Inclusiveness has also been on the decline in the UK over the past decade (-5.0), with the steepest drop happening within the past five years. This confirms a trend we see of an increasingly intolerant UK whose liberties are in retreat.

Commenting on the global results, CEO of the Social Progress Imperative, Michael Green, noted:

“Forward movement in world social progress was nearly imperceptible last year. While the direct and indirect effects of Covid play a role, a precipitous decline in personal rights around the world betrays an even deeper problem, for which there is little on the horizon to suggest that 2023 will be a year of resurgence. The yen to get back to business as usual in a time of crisis is strong, but if policy-makers just focus on an economic recovery, they will miss half the story.”

Learn more about the Social Progress Index in our full report at

Further information: Sophie Sutherland, Global Communications and Marketing Director, Social Progress Imperative. T. + 1 917 207 4858 E.

About the Social Progress Imperative:
We use data to influence policies and investments to better serve all of humanity.
We partner with leaders in every sector ––government, business, and civil society––to meet the pressing needs of communities and equip them with the right information to tackle urgent global challenges like Covid-19 and climate change. Since 2012, we have developed data-driven tools that measure whether people have what they need to prosper, from basic needs like adequate shelter, being well-nourished, and feeling safe, to whether they are treated equally regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation in order to help improve the quality of life for all.

The Social Progress Index measures how well countries and communities convert their resources into social and environmental outcomes that impact people's lives every day. ​​A global network of local partners is now delivering subnational Social Progress Indexes that have revealed the true state of society for more than 2.7 billion people across more than 45 countries.

The Social Progress index is supported by Strategic Partner Deloitte and Supporting Sponsor Breckinridge Capital Advisors

Sophie Sutherland
Social Progress Imperative
+1 917-207-4858
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2022 Social Progress Index highlights