The Social Progress Index rankings are out again for another year. The ranking goes beyond GDP and includes measures of Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing and Opportunity. The 2015 report is co-authored by Harvard professor Michael E Porter who many business school graduates will remember for his 5 forces model of competition.
This year Switzerland slipped down the rankings, however unlike the Netherlands, which slid down five places to number nine, Switzerland only slipped one place to third position. A comparison with 2014 reveals that Switzerland lost ground on Foundations of Wellbeing and was a relative under performer on, obesity, air pollution and suicide, three elements included in this category.
And while its overall score on Opportunity improved it was a relative under performer in the subcategories of tolerance for immigrants and access to advanced education. Switzerland’s low score on access to advanced education could be driven in part by its system of streaming children early on based on their academic results, putting many on a path away from university education.
One area where Switzerland really shines is on greenhouse emissions where it scores first place. Significant hydro-power generation capacity, well-insulated buildings and a well run rail network are likely to contribute to this outstanding performance.
Media in the United States (US) is buzzing with possible explanations for the US’s lowly rank of 16th. The US achieved generally high scores but was let down on Health and wellness (rates poorly on life expectancy, premature deaths from non-communicable diseases, obesity, air pollution and suicide) and Ecosystem sustainability (rates poorly on water withdrawals, biodiversity and habitat) There were however a number of European Union countries below the US, most notably, Spain, France and Italy. All of these three scored poorly on Ecosystem sustainability although not quite as poorly as the US. Access to advanced education is a weakness common to all of them too. Both France and Italy also score poorly on Tolerance and inclusion and Italy has an additional weaknesses in the area of Personal freedom and choices, in particular freedom of religion, access to contraception and corruption.
Full index scorecards for Switzerland are set out below.