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NZ Ranked World’s Most Socially Advanced Country

News Release
Embargo: 02.00am BST, April 3rd 2014

NEW ZEALAND RANKED WORLD’S MOST SOCIALLY ADVANCED COUNTRY

Social Progress Index launched to enable better understanding of worldwide progress and growth

(02.00am BST, April 3rd 2014) New Zealand is the most socially advanced nation in the world according to a major new global index published today by US-based nonprofit, the Social Progress Imperative, and released at the 2014 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. New Zealand topped the rankings across a wide range of measures–according to the Social Progress Index 2014 which ranks 132 countries based on their social and environmental performance. The result was described as “exceptional” by Michael Green, Executive Directive of the Social Progress Imperative.

The Social Progress Index, created by a team led by Professor Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School, is designed as a complement to GDP and other economic indicators to provide a more holistic understanding of countries’ overall performance. Measuring a country’s social progress outcomes the Index identifies a number of areas in which New Zealand is performing strongly compared to countries with a comparable GDP per capita, including on ‘Personal Rights’, ‘Water and Sanitation’ and ‘Personal Freedom and Choice’.

Professor Michael E. Porter said: “Until now, the assumption has been that there is a direct relationship between economic growth and wellbeing. However, the Social Progress Index finds that all economic growth is not equal. While higher GDP per capita is correlated with social progress, the connection is far from automatic. For similar levels of GDP, we find that some countries, like New Zealand, achieve much higher levels of social progress than others."

Michael Green Executive Director of the Social Progress Imperative, said: “New Zealand’s ranking as the most socially progressive nation on earth is an exceptional result. It’s some accolade that across so many measures New Zealand outperforms countries like the United States, UK and Australia. It’s particularly on the measure of ‘Opportunity’ that New Zealand performs strongly thanks to it’s top global rankings on ‘Personal Rights’ and ‘Personal Freedom and Choice’."

The Social Progress Imperative created the Social Progress Index working in collaboration with scholars from the Harvard Business School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as international organizations in social entrepreneurship, business and philanthropy led by the Skoll Foundation and Fundacion Avina as well as Cisco, Compartamos Banco, Deloitte Global and its member firms (Deloitte).

The result is particularly impressive in the context of New Zealand’s relative economic weakness compared to countries that finished much lower on the Index. New Zealand, enjoys the world’s 25th highest GDP per capita of $25,857, finishing ahead of the United States in 16th ranking with a per capita GDP of over $45,000*; the UK in 13th with a per capita GDP of over $32,500*; and Australia in 10th with a per capita GDP of $34,669*.

Key global highlights:

_ The top five countries in order of ranking are: New Zealand, Switzerland, Netherlands, Iceland, and Norway. _

_ Canada is the best performing G8 country._

_ Brazil is the top of the BRICS, followed by South Africa, Russia, China and India. Apart from Brazil, the BRICS are all significant under-performers on social progress, suggesting that, for China and India in particular, rapid economic growth is not yet being converted into better lives for their citizens._

Key New Zealand findings:

Of the 54 indicators measured within each country to make up the overall Index ranking, New Zealand scores top spot in no less than 20, across a wide variety of different measures. These include tying in first place globally on measures of homicide (less than 2 per 100,000 people); levels of corruption and religious tolerance.

Strengths:

H New Zealand scores strongly on the ‘Access to Basic Knowledge’ component finishing 2nd globally. Included in this is secondary school enrollment on which New Zealand scores top.

H New Zealand also finishes top ranked on ‘Personal Freedom and Choice’, owing to impressive results on religious freedoms and freedom over life choices.

H On ‘Tolerance and Inclusion’ New Zealand scores fourth globally, thanks partly to its high tolerance for immigrants and religious tolerance.

H On the ‘Access to Information and Communications’ measure New Zealand scores 7th globally, which is a relatively strong result compared to countries of a similar GDP. The result owes partly to an exceptionally high rate of mobile telephone subscriptions (more than 110 for every 100 people) as well as ranking number one globally for press freedoms.

Other findings

According to the researchers New Zealand doesn’t have any specific weaknesses. However, the Social Progress Index 2014 highlights obesity as a challenge to ‘Health and Wellness’ - more than one in four New Zealanders are obese.

Also, one of New Zealand’s weaker score is on ‘Nutrition and Basic Medical Care’ (28th), a result partly of its 36th place ranking on the measure of maternal mortality (15 deaths per 100,000 live births). The top ranking country on this measure is Estonia with just two deaths per 100,000 births. Similarly, New Zealand’s child mortality rate of 5.7 deaths per 1000 live births is more than double Iceland who ranked in first place with just 2 deaths per 1000 live births.

Sally Osberg, President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation, said: “Making social progress a true imperative means putting the progress of humanity and our wellbeing on an equal footing with GDP. The Social Progress Index prioritizes and measures what matters, capturing data that ranges from basic needs such as health to the building blocks and guarantees of opportunity such as education and rights.

"The Index is a game-changing new tool, designed to empower governments, businesses, social entrepreneurs, and others; to advance their collective accountability; and to illuminate opportunities for investing in and scaling solutions. As the first global framework to disaggregate global social progress from economic progress, the Social Progress Index will propel nations on a path to a more peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world."

Thomas Pippos, CEO of Deloitte New Zealand , said: “In order to achieve sustainable growth in business and strengthen society we need a better way to assess social progress. Deloitte is collaborating with the Social Progress Imperative and others because we believe business has a role to play in helping solve the world’s critical issues and the Index is a tool that can ignite collective action from business, government and society."

Professor Michael E. Porter said: “The Social Progress Index is the most inclusive and ambitious effort ever attempted to define and measure social progress comprehensively.

It is a new tool which allows us to have a more complete picture of a country’s wellbeing as a society that can be compared and evaluated against economic performance. It is our hope that just as GDP per capita is the de facto measure of economic success, so too SPI will become a widely accepted measure of social and environmental success.

“The Social Progress Index is designed to capture the full breadth of issues that define social progress, benchmark country performance, and identify priority areas for improvement. The Index uses indicators that measure outcomes — such as life expectancy, literacy, and freedom of personal choice — rather than inputs such as size of government spending or laws passed. And, because the Social Progress Index measures comprehensive social outcomes directly, separately from economic indicators, it allows us – for the first time – to examine the relationship between economic and social progress."

END

Notes to editors:

2014 Results

The full, interactive dataset from the Index will be available from 02.00 BST, 3rd April at: http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/data/spi. Please note that due to a variety of changes made to this year’s index including the number of countries covered, the 50-country 2013 Social Progress Index is not comparable to the 2014 Social Progress Index.

About the Social Progress Imperative

The Social Progress Imperative’s mission is to improve the lives of people around the world, particularly the least well off, by advancing global social progress by: providing a robust, holistic and innovative measurement tool—the Social Progress Index (SPI); fostering research and knowledge-sharing on social progress; and equipping leaders and change-makers in business, government and civil society with new tools to guide policies and programs.

Financial Support

The Social Progress Imperative is registered as a nonprofit organization in the United States, and is grateful to the following organizations for their financial support: Cisco, Compartamos Banco, Deloitte Global, Fundacion Avina, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the Skoll Foundation.

What is social progress?

Social progress is defined as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens to improve their lives, and create the conditions for individuals and communities to meet their full potential.

*GDP per capita definition

The Social Progress Index uses the World Bank definition: “GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity (PPP). PPP GDP is gross domestic product converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates. An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GDP as the U.S. dollar has in the United States. GDP at purchaser's prices is the sum of gross value added by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes and minus any subsidies not included in the value of the products. It is calculated without making deductions for depreciation of fabricated assets or for depletion and degradation of natural resources.

Data are in constant 2005 international dollars." http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.KD

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