U.S. Ranks 35th in 'Report Card' on World Social Progress; Sudden, Unexpected Shift Forward for Africa

Oct 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Sweden and Denmark lead the world in social progress, Afghanistan is at the bottom of the list and the United States ranks 35th among 162 nations, tied with Ireland, Latvia and Hong Kong. Those are among the rankings in the latest Index of Social Progress.

These “world social report” figures, which document global social progress for the last 40 years, were released this week by Richard Estes, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice, at the 2009 Globalization Forum at the Penn Institute for Urban Research.

The 12th in a series, the report notes a continuing social decline in the U.S., attributing this to increasing poverty across the nation and a weakened social infrastructure, even for the middle class. Other noteworthy changes include the sudden and unexpected shift forward for Africa as a whole, after more than 30 years of persistent and often overwhelming social decline.

In addition, the report notes steady but uneven progress over the last 40 years in Latin America, due to increasing prosperity among its largest countries, including Brazil, as well as dramatic increases for Asia, especially in China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and with unparalleled levels of growth and prosperity.

The nations comprising the top 10 are , Denmark, Norway, Germany, Iceland, Austria, Finland, Italy, France and Luxembourg. The bottom 10 are Afghanistan, Liberia, Chad, Eritrea, Somalia, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

Using data provided to the United Nations, the World Bank and other data-collection bodies by national governments, Estes’ study measures the ability of nations to meet the needs of their residents in terms of health, education, human rights, political participation, population growth, cultural diversity and freedom from “social chaos.” Military spending, unemployment and environmental protection also are among the 41 factors used to tabulate the Weighted Index of Social Progress.

More information: Additional details, as well as charts and graphs, are available at www.sp2.upenn.edu/~restes/WSS09.html .

Provided by University of Pennsylvania (news : web)

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User comments : 10

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jonnyboy
Oct 26, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
VOR
5 / 5 (2) Oct 26, 2009
Welcome to america. the (35th) best country in the world. Enjoy the 'class warfare' as the rich publicly decry thier obscene wealth is 'threatened' by more balanced political values. And the ranks of the ignorant swell (see previous post) as education continues to suffer.
gopher65
3 / 5 (3) Oct 26, 2009
This particular annual study is highly unfair to the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and China due to the fact that it counts military spending as a strong negative, while counting security as a strong positive.

Therefore countries like Canada, Japan, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Mongolia that are secured by firm military alliances with major powers (and thus draw the benefits of having a strong military presence without having the spending show up directly on their balance sheets) have artificially high rankings due to their artificially low military-spending-to-security ratio.

That's not to say that Denmark and Canada don't spend a lot on their militaries; they spend quite a lot, contrary to popular opinion. It's just that they are far stronger militarily than they would be if they weren't in an alliance.

Of course military spending isn't the only poorly thought out part of this study, so those countries get dragged down by other unfair criteria.
Truth
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 26, 2009
Right on, gopher65! Generally speaking, most investigators have to come up with a "controversial" report once in a while, just to justify their existence and elicit some sort of attention. Having once lived in Havana, the worker's paradise, and various other left-wing countries, including South America, Central America and Italy, I have seen my share of the world. Needless to say, every time I return to the good old USA, I kiss the ground. If a person wants to really grade other countries, let them go live there for a while, then compare notes. The results will be an eye-opener.
John_balls
5 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2009
Right on, gopher65! Generally speaking, most investigators have to come up with a "controversial" report once in a while, just to justify their existence and elicit some sort of attention. Having once lived in Havana, the worker's paradise, and various other left-wing countries, including South America, Central America and Italy, I have seen my share of the world. Needless to say, every time I return to the good old USA, I kiss the ground. If a person wants to really grade other countries, let them go live there for a while, then compare notes. The results will be an eye-opener.

For the most part you compare the u.s. to third world countries. Thats like comparing a mercedes benz to toyota tercel. Get a grip, of course you would prefer it here. Just don't get sick.
And for the record I'll take france over the U.S. any day. 20 years ago, no, but now yes.
Tesla444
not rated yet Oct 27, 2009
So, this study found that in all of the studied areas of Social Progress these countries all rated better than Canada (#33) and the US (#35)? Have you heard of #29-Belarus?

Belarus (#29) on the list of Socially Progressive countries. I am sure the authors included the following 'glitches' when considering this shining example of Social Progress & Leadership for all of us:
• Lukashenko (President for life), describes himself as having an 'authoritarian ruling style';
• Western countries have described Belarus under Lukashenko as a dictatorship;
• The Council of Europe barred Belarus from membership since '97 for undemocratic voting & election irregularities in '96,
• The Belarusian gov't is also criticized for human rights violations, actions against NGO's, independent journalists, minorities & opposition politicians (No doubt the part that allowed Belarus to leapfrog ahead of Canada & US.
You get the idea! This one example makes this Study a joke!
Tesla444
not rated yet Oct 27, 2009
I hope we get some real feedback from the authors of this study to at least try to justify such a bizarre set of criteria for this study, which could be used by the dictators of the World to justify their actions against their own people.
Roderick
5 / 5 (1) Oct 31, 2009
Gopher65,

There is no justification for the 500 billion dollars that the US spends each year on 'defense'. The US did not reduce military spending a penny when the Wall fell in 1989.

The US addiction to military spending has left the US with an inferior infrastructure and quality of life.

The US faces no credible threat that justifies its military stance or the number of nuclear weapons that it harbors.

It represents the triumph of vested interests.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2009
This particular annual study is highly unfair to the US, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, and China due to the fact that it counts military spending as a strong negative, while counting security as a strong positive.


Seeing as Germany is still number 4 in the list I don't see how one could decry this as 'unfair'. Military spending IS a negative. Supporting violence and death cannot really be termed a positive under any point of view.

have seen my share of the world. Needless to say, every time I return to the good old USA, I kiss the ground.

Well, me too. Needless to say I'm always am glad when I can leave the US and return home. The pervading atmosphere of fear, paranoia and obsession with superficiality is just too much for me to bear in the long run.
Crossrip
5 / 5 (1) Nov 01, 2009
Having lived in countries like Italy, where by the way 8% of the GNP is organized crime, and other European countries. The US has much more to offer from personal freedom to opportunity. That being said I currently live in New Zealand and will eventually live here permanently.
gopher65
not rated yet Nov 02, 2009
antialias_physorg: My point was that all those countries, including Germany, would be higher on the list if military security was properly accounted for.

I'm not disputing that excessive military spending is a bad thing. I'm saying that the study doesn't properly account for where the security of some countries comes from.

You can't just say "military spending is bad", and then rank Sweden at the top of the list, despite the fact that its security is greatly enhanced by massive military spending... from its EU allies.

In other words, by having strong alliances with military powers, Sweden is actively helping propagate largescale military spending for its own external security. Even though it isn't directly spending that money, it is *supporting* the spending of that money for military purposes, and benefiting from it. It is unfair not to count that support of military spending against countries like Sweden.

If it weren't for that criteria, France and Germany would be #'s 1 and 2.