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We’re Not No.1! We’re Not No.1!

New York Times Social LogoThose of you who follow Markets For Good on Twitter will have been enjoying our updates from The Skoll World Forum on Social Enterprise. We hope our 140 character or less comments were illuminating, but we will be doing a write up on the event and the prominent role that data played. For now, we would like to highlight a very interesting article discussed in one of the sessions. Two time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof writes about the fact the USA is not in fact No. 1 when it comes to social progress, and now there’s data to prove it.

Having most thoroughly enjoyed meeting the team behind the Social Progress Index – a comprehensive measurement program – at The Skoll World Forum, we at Markets For Good felt that you, our readers, would be interested to hear of their work. Utilizing large amounts of data and translating it into outcomes, which can be compared across Nations (and separately at a charity or even community level as well), they have ranked countries according to 3 core dimensions: Basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing and opportunity.

The article notes how ‘in the Social Progress Index, the United States excels in access to advanced education but ranks 70th in health, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, 39th in basic education, 34th in access to water and sanitation and 31st in personal safety. Even in access to cellphones and the Internet, the United States ranks a disappointing 23rd, partly because one American in five lacks Internet access.’ Overall, the USA ranks at 16th. For our American readers, this may indeed come as a shock. Ireland, from where so many migrated to the ‘Land of Opportunity’ more than a century ago, now ranks 15th.

‘This Social Progress Index ranks New Zealand No. 1, followed by Switzerland, Iceland and the Netherlands. All are somewhat poorer than America per capita, yet they appear to do a better job of meeting the needs of their people.’

What conclusions we can draw from this, I shall leave to Nick Kristof in the original piece, and to you, our discerning reader.

If you would like more information on the Social Progress Index, please visit their website, follow them on Twitter. Do also stay tuned to the New York Times for further articles of interest, and of course, keep up to date with Nicholas Kristof.