SPI, social progress index, was introduced by a research collaboration entitled the Social Progress Imperative. They define SPI as a measure of “how well countries provide for the non-economic needs of their citizens”.
Sweden, they said in a statement, performed well alongside runner-up the UK, “because they perform consistently across the three dimensions of social progress – basic needs, foundations of well-being, and opportunity”.
Sweden also scored highly in the opportunity measure, trailing only the United States.
In the basic needs category, Sweden came in joint fourth place with Australia. Germany, Israel and Switzerland topped the list that included access to nutrition and healthcare.
The SPI uses a model devised by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter and the ranking was put together with the help of economists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, using data from the World Bank and the World Health Organization.
“The Arab Spring of 2011 and the challenges in Mexico over the last decade have illustrated the shortcomings of economic growth as a proxy for social progress,” Porter said in a statement.
“Social progress depends on the policy choices, investments, and implementation capabilities of multiple stakeholders – government, civil society, and business.”
When contacted by The Local, researchers at SPI were not available to comment on Sweden’s particular characteristics that saw the small country ranked number one.