With the recent 125th anniversary of universal suffrage in New Zealand, it’s particularly pleasing to see New Zealand hold steady in the top tier of the 2018 Social Progress Index (SPI) rankings in 10th place, bolstered by our performance on indicators of inclusion, personal freedom and choice.

In contrast, Australia has dropped six places, and into the second tier, to 15th place on the SPI. And the United States has dropped seven places to 25th overall.

Norway tops the 2018 Index, boasting strong performance across all the components and indicators. It’s followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Denmark and Finland to round out the top five.

The 2018 SPI, compiled by the Social Progress Imperative, a US-based nonprofit, ranks 146 countries’ social performance across five years (2014-18), using 51 indicators covering Nutrition, Shelter, Safety, Education, Health, as well as Rights and Inclusiveness.

On Personal Rights (including Political Rights and Freedom of expression), 75 of the 146 ranked countries witnessed declines. On Inclusiveness (including acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and violence against minorities), 56 of the 146 ranked countries witnessed declines.

Despite this, the Index shows the world making overall gains, with 133 of the 146 countries seeing overall improvements in social progress, with the greatest achievements being recorded in parts of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Commenting on the global results, CEO of the Social Progress Imperative Michael Green says there seems to be a progress paradox in how quality of life is changing around the world.

“On one hand we see real progress against hunger and disease and getting people in poorer countries connected to basic infrastructure. At the same time rights are being eroded and intolerance is growing across a wide range of countries, rich and poor alike,” says Mr Green.

“It is also clear that, although richer countries top the rankings, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is far from being the sole determinant of social progress. Across the spectrum, from rich to poor, we see how some countries are much better at turning their economic growth into social progress than others,” he adds.

Deloitte Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Deborah Lucas, says that New Zealand is a case in point, ranking 10th out of 146 countries in social progress while only ranking 25th in GDP PPP per capita.

“While economic strength, as measured by GDP, is no doubt important, New Zealand’s experience shows that there are more factors contributing to any country’s ‘success’. We are encouraged by the New Zealand Government’s greater focus on holistic wellbeing. And we look forward the introduction of the first Wellbeing Budget next year, which has the potential to support continued social progress here,” says Ms Lucas.

“Today, business leaders are embracing the importance of societal impact as a business priority, which is more important than ever before as both business and society are facing a time of transformation and disruption,” she adds.

“At Deloitte, we believe business should actively collaborate with organisations to drive policies and initiatives that seek to address and improve the wellbeing of society. Measuring societal impact is key to making a meaningful impact. The Social Progress Index affords us the ability to evaluate our efforts and look beyond economic indicators as the sole measurement of social progress,” she concludes.

The full results of the 2018 Social Progress Index, including individual country scorecards, can be accessed at https://www.socialprogress.org/.

To read Deloitte’s 2018 State of the State New Zealand, a series of articles exploring wellbeing, go to www.deloitte.com/nz/stateofthestate.

Find out more about Deloitte New Zealand's Social Impact Practice here

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