Rich countries aren’t always the best ones to live in when it comes to wealth, health, and education. That’s what the summary of the Social Progress Index 2014 shows. Sweden has fallen from first place to a sixth in the ranking, leaving New Zealand on top followed by Switzerland.

The method used for the Social Progress Index, the SPI, has been developed at Harvard University and comprises around 50 different indicators such as a country’s ability to provide its people with a good living environment, education, safety, living, health, human rights, and access to information. One of the purposes with the new index is to find out if economic prosperity always leads to greater progress even in other areas of society. A relationship that doesn’t always exist, according to the researchers. For instance, super power USA with a 17.4 trillion GDP, ends up in a scanty 16th place.


”Financial growth does not automatically lead to social progress. The index shows that if we are to tackle problems such as poverty and inequality, economic growth alone is not enough,” said Professor Michael Green, one of those responsible for the index.
Sweden’s loss is explained partly by more countries participating in this year’s edition of the index, four of the five countries ending up higher than Sweden on the list, are new - Iceland (3), Netherlands(4), New Zealand(1), Norway (5). Also, there’s a new way to measure social development. Factors like these make it impossible to pinpoint exactly why Sweden has fallen down in the index. Great Britan too has plummeted from a second to a 13th place, and Italy, France, and Spain have been overtaken by Estonia and Slovenia. All the Nordic countries however, end up among the top ten. Among the EU countries, the Netherlands as fourth country is the best (Iceland, in third place, has suspended its accession to EU). At the bottom is Chad, followed by several other African countries such as Central African Republic, and also Yemen, Pakistan, and Iraq. For more info, see the full report (PDF) here:
Social Progress Index 2014