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Findings from the Social Progress Index: US States


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The Social Progress Index: US States is an objective, transparent measure that compares quality of life in all 50 states. The Social Progress Index is meant to complement, not replace, economic measures like GDP per capita and Median Household Income. These measures only tell half the story about what life is really like for ordinary Americans. The Social Progress Index™ highlights the issues and the individuals that are invisible when only looking at changes in the economy. The Social Progress Imperative, a US-based nonprofit, created the index to help local officials, businesses and community organizations understand how well people are truly living, how economic changes are affecting quality of life, and what improvements can have the greatest impact on society. To learn more, please visit

Published in: Data & Analytics
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Findings from the Social Progress Index: US States

  1. 1. Social Progress Index: US States Draft: January 24, 2018
  2. 2. The information presented is embargoed until April 11, 2018
  3. 3. The Social Progress Index measures the founding fathers’ goals for the United States: life, liberty and happiness
  4. 4. SCORE RANK 2017Social ProgressIndex 86.43 18/128 GDPPPPpercapita $52,704 5/128 SCORE/ VALUE RANK STRENGTH/ WEAKNESS BasicHumanNeeds 93.42 17 NutritionandBasicMedical Care 98.96 36 Undernourishment (%of pop.; 5 signifies ≤ 5) 5.00 1 Depthof fooddeficit (calories/undernourished person; 8 signifies ≤ 8) 8.00 1 Maternal mortalityrate (deaths/100,000 live births) 13.75 39 Childmortalityrate (deaths/1,000 live births) 6.50 35 Deathsfrominfectiousdiseases (deaths/100,000) 23.33 34 WaterandSanitation 98.77 27 Accesstopipedwater (%of pop.) 98.64 30 Rural accesstoimprovedwater source (%of pop.) 98.16 44 Accesstoimprovedsanitationfacilities (%of pop.) 99.99 10 Shelter 89.18 10 Availabilityof af ordablehousing (%satisfied) 56.68 30 Accesstoelectricity (%of pop.) 100.00 1 Qualityof electricitysupply (1=low; 7=high) 6.47 13 Householdair pollutionattributabledeaths (deaths/100,000) 0.00 1 Personal Safety 86.76 21 Homiciderate (deaths/100,000) 3.90 70 Level of violent crime (1=low; 5=high) 1.00 1 Perceivedcriminality (1=low; 5=high) 2.00 1 Political terror (1=low; 5=high) 2.00 34 Traf cdeaths(deaths/100,000) 10.60 40 SCORE/ VALUE RANK STRENGTH/ WEAKNESS Foundationsof Wellbeing 84.19 29 AccesstoBasicKnowledge 97.95 30 Adult literacyrate (%of pop. aged 15+) Primaryschool enrollment (%of children) 98.04 53 Secondaryschool enrollment (%of children) 97.56 50 Gender parityinsecondaryenrollment (distance from parity) 0.02 32 AccesstoInformation andCommunications 84.63 27 Mobiletelephonesubscriptions (subscriptions/100 people) 100.00 1 Internet users (%of pop.) 74.45 27 PressFreedomIndex (0=most free; 100=least free) 22.49 32 HealthandWellness 75.88 34 Lifeexpectancyat 60 (years) 23.61 27 Prematuredeathsfromnon-communicable diseases(deaths/100,000) 299.40 42 Suiciderate (deaths/100,000) 12.41 82 Environmental Quality 78.31 33 Outdoor air pollutionattributabledeaths (deaths/100,000) 18.48 13 Wastewater treatment (%of wastewater) 50.44 36 Biodiversityandhabitat (0=no protection; 100=high protection) 79.35 73 Greenhousegasemissions (CO2 equivalents per GDP) 392.70 60 SCORE/ VALUE RANK STRENGTH/ WEAKNESS Opportunity 81.68 13 Personal Rights 88.98 19 Political rights (0=no rights; 40=full rights) 36.00 32 Freedomof expression (0=no freedom; 16=full freedom) 16.00 1 Freedomof assembly (0=no freedom; 1=full freedom) 0.86 14 Privatepropertyrights (0=none; 100=full) 80.00 17 Personal FreedomandChoice 79.88 19 Freedomover lifechoices (%satisfied) 75.48 65 Freedomof religion (1=low; 4=high) 3.00 54 Earlymarriage (%of women aged 15-19) 3.00 32 Satisfieddemandfor contraception (%of women) 85.10 13 Corruption (0=high; 100=low) 74.00 15 ToleranceandInclusion 68.30 23 Tolerancefor immigrants (0=low; 100=high) 78.78 16 Tolerancefor homosexuals(0=low; 100=high) 71.34 19 Discriminationandviolenceagainst minorities (0=low; 10=high) 5.10 39 Religioustolerance (1=low; 4=high) 2.00 92 Communitysafetynet (0=low; 100=high) 89.58 31 AccesstoAdvancedEducation 89.55 1 Yearsof tertiaryschooling 1.86 3 Women’saverageyearsinschool 15.06 7 Inequalityintheattainment of education (0=low; 1=high) 0.05 28 Number of globallyrankeduniversities (0=none; 10=most highly rank ed) 10.00 1 Percent of tertiarystudentsenrolledinglobally rankeduniversities (0=none; 6=highest enrollment) 4.00 15 UNITED STATES STRENGTH/ WEAKNESS Oveperforming and underperforming are relative to 15 countries of similar GDPper capita: Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Australia, Canada, Belgium, Iceland, Norway, Finland, United Kingdom Overperforming by 1or more pts. Overperforming by less than 1pt. Performing within the expected range Underperforming by less than 1pt. Underperforming by 1or more pts. No data available Strengthsandweaknesses And it reveals that the US underperforms on many measures of quality of life As the world’s largest economy, today the US ranks 5th in GDP per capita but just 18th in social progress
  5. 5. Social progress flat lined in the US between 2014- 2017 Social Progress Index results warned of emerging social and political issues in the US
  6. 6. A far-reaching crisis 6 The United States’ failure to improve quality of life for its people has sweeping effects: • A 20-year decline in competitiveness • Discontent and sense of unequal opportunity • Divisive politics, as citizens turn on fellow citizens • Declining participation and trust in democracy
  7. 7. To truly understand the dissent, neglect and inequity and address these issues, government, business and philanthropic organizations must also examine them at the state, regional and local levels
  8. 8. 8 The Social Progress Index: US States uses 53 indicators to measure quality of life for 323 million people across all 50 states It is designed to lead to greater insight and action on today’s most pressing issues Fueled by drug crisis, U.S. life expectancy declines for a second straight year
  9. 9. Social progress framework for US states 9 Social Progress Framework for US states
  10. 10. State performance
  11. 11. 11 2018 Social Progress Index: US States
  12. 12. 12 2018 Social Progress Index: US States
  13. 13. You don’t have to be a small, New England state to have high social progress: Minnesota scores second in the nation
  14. 14. In general, US states have low overall scores — Massachusetts, ranked first, scores just 64.82/100 on social progress
  15. 15. While states often considered “progressive” also defy stereotypes upon examination: California falls in the bottom half of the index rankings
  16. 16. Blue states tend to perform better on social progress than red states 16
  17. 17. But politics don’t tell the whole story: Many blue states like California, Nevada and New Mexico score poorly
  18. 18. Regional performance
  19. 19. 19 Regional performance: New England • New England is the highest performing region in the country, with 4 of the 5 states in the highest tier, including top-ranked Massachusetts • All New England states rank in the national top ten
  20. 20. 20 Regional performance: Mid Atlantic • The Mid Atlantic is home to three states in the top two tiers nationally: New York, Maryland and New Jersey • The Mid Atlantic region leads the country on Access to Advanced Education • New York ranks first in the nation on Inclusiveness
  21. 21. 21 Regional performance: Great Lakes • Wisconsin is the highest performing state in the region, outscoring its neighbors on all three dimensions • The Great Lakes region leads the country on Water and Sanitation • Health and Wellness is an area of weak average performance
  22. 22. 22 Regional performance: Plains • Performance in this region varies greatly, with 7 states scattered across 5 tiers of social progress • Minnesota is the only Plains state in the top tier • The Plains region leads the nation on Shelter
  23. 23. 23 Regional performance: Southeast • The Southeast has the worst performance of any US region • Virginia is the region’s strongest performer, ranking 15th nationally • Both Florida and North Carolina overperform on Access to Advanced Education, a national and regional weakness
  24. 24. 24 Regional performance: Southwest • The Southwest has the worst performance of any US region on Basic Human Needs • Arizona is the region’s strongest performer, outperforming its neighbors on Foundations of Wellbeing and Opportunity
  25. 25. 25 Regional performance: Rocky Mountains • Colorado outperforms its neighbors, particularly on Opportunity, but ranks just 40th nationally on Shelter • Opportunity is a major challenge for other states in the region: Montana, Idaho and Wyoming score especially poorly on Inclusiveness
  26. 26. 26 Regional performance: Far West • The Far West is the only region with worse average performance on Basic Human Needs than on Foundations of Wellbeing and Opportunity • The region leads the US on Environmental Quality and Inclusiveness but is the lowest performing region on Shelter
  27. 27. Thematic findings
  28. 28. On average, US states perform best on Shelter, although it is an area of weakness for many of the fastest-growing states in the country
  29. 29. The most common area of weakness for US states is in Access to Advanced Education, followed closely by Health & Wellness
  30. 30. • No state dominates the index: no state is the best performer in the country on more than two components • Tallying the top scorers on each of the 12 components of the index reveals an economically, geographically, and demographically diverse group of seven states: Performance by component: No state dominates 30 • Massachusetts • Minnesota • Iowa • New Hampshire • Washington • New York • Hawaii
  31. 31. 31 Leading states by component of social progress Basic Human Needs • Nutrition and Basic Medical Care: Massachusetts • Water and Sanitation: Minnesota • Shelter: Iowa • Personal Safety: New Hampshire
  32. 32. 32 Leading states by component of social progress Foundations of Wellbeing • Access to Basic Knowledge: New Hampshire • Access to Information and Communications: Washington • Health and Wellness: Hawaii • Environmental Quality: Washington
  33. 33. 33 Leading states by component of social progress Opportunity • Personal Rights: Minnesota • Personal Freedom and Choice: Hawaii • Inclusiveness: New York • Access to Advanced Education: Massachusetts
  34. 34. Social progress vs. economic growth
  35. 35. An emphasis on jobs, trade, consumption and other economic measures hides the true state of the union
  36. 36. 36 Income isn’t everything States with higher Median Household Income tend to have higher social progress But many states perform better, or worse, than their income would suggest On its own, more income does not guarantee higher social progress
  37. 37. Income isn’t everything Massachusetts and New Jersey have similar median household income ($70,954 and $73,702, respectively), but diverge on social progress (64.82/100 and 54.26/100) 37
  38. 38. Minnesota and California have similar median household income ($63,217 and $63,783, respectively), but substantially diverge on social progress (62.30/100 and 45.53/100) 38 Income isn’t everything
  39. 39. Wisconsin and Texas have similar median household income ($54,610 and $54,727, respectively), but diverge on social progress (57.88/100 and 40.27/100) 39 Income isn’t everything
  40. 40. Louisiana and Tennessee have similar median household incomes ($45,652 and $46,574, respectively), but diverge on social progress (30.07/100 and 41.24/100) 40 Income isn’t everything
  41. 41. • The Social Progress Index disentangles the social and economic aspects of state performance, making it possible to compare a state’s quality of life to that of its economic peers • We define a state’s economic peers as the 15 states closest in Median Household Income • By analyzing a state’s performance relative to its economic peers, we can uncover which states are best at turning each dollar of income into better social outcomes Comparing state performance 41
  42. 42. 43 Over- and under- performers on the Social Progress Index: US States
  43. 43. New England is not the top- performing region only because it is wealthy; it is also the best at turning income into social progress
  44. 44. All of the bottom five states on social progress also underperform compared to their economic peers
  45. 45. 46 Over- and under- performers on the Social Progress Index: US States by political affiliation Overperformers Wisconsin Massachusetts Minnesota Vermont New Hampshire Connecticut Maine Underperformers Nevada Hawaii California Wyoming Alaska Texas Oklahoma Arkansas Louisiana West Virginia Mississippi
  46. 46. Social progress is strongly tied to poverty States with higher poverty rates, on average, have lower social progress 47
  47. 47. Unemployment may help us understand social progress On average, higher unemployment rates are associated with lower social progress But the relationship is weaker than that between poverty and social progress 48
  48. 48. The US social progress initiative
  49. 49. An audacious goal 50 • We are launching an ambitious initiative to bring the data and insight of the Social Progress Index to every community in the country by 2022 • Starting with 10 city pilots, we will help communities develop customized Social Progress Indexes to identify their greatest needs and convert their resources into better, more equitable outcomes • Our aim is to improve quality of life for all Americans from the grassroots level on up by empowering communities to measure and solve the issues that matter most to them
  50. 50. 51 The US has a data deficiency • Calculating this index reveals the lack of quality, standardized data • And the data that do exist are not consistently and sufficiently disaggregated by race, gender etc. • To support local leaders in solving their most pressing issue, the data gap must close
  51. 51. 52 DATA PARTNERS Data owners, experts and advocates TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS Experts to co-design and build open source IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS Partners who can positon with local leaders FINANCIAL INVESTORS Initial backers to fuel the initiative for first 36 months A range of opportunities for investors, innovators & influencers Offer your support at
  52. 52. Thank you See the full results starting April 11, 2018 at
  53. 53. 54 About the Social Progress Imperative • We have a single, bold goal: to redefine how the world measure’s success, putting social progress at the center of debate and action. • We are an international nonprofit with a headquarters office in Washington, DC and a global reach through a network of regional and national partners. • Our global network consists of 29 Social Progress Indexes covering 2.4 billion people across 38 countries, while we have data users in 134 different countries.
  54. 54. State progress reports
  55. 55. • We also measured social progress in the District of Columbia • DC scored 39.60/100 on the index, just below Texas and just above Kentucky • However, because of the District’s unique political, social and economic circumstances, and to avoid skewing the results, we have opted to exclude it from our statistical analysis District of Columbia 64