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A Social Mamagism Index

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The superstars of measurement have spoken. And while you might never have imagined there were such people, what they say about social progress influences development thinking around the world. 



The recently-released Social Progress Index (SPI) is the brainchild of Republican and Harvard economist Michael E Porter and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Scott Stern. Its neoliberal credentials and world view are clear in the glossy blurb put out by their Washington, DC-based parent organisation, the Social Progress Imperative, and in their financial supporters, which include well known institutions of neoliberal faith like the Rockefeller Foundation.


So what does the SPI do? In simple terms it measures and ranks 132 of the world’s nations into a hierarchy around the ill-defined notion of “social progress” (T&T comes in at number 47). In order to quantify social progress, the index measured 54 variables in three dimensions, each with various sub-components and indicators. These are: one—basic human needs; two—foundations of well-being; and three—opportunity. T&T’s rank across each of these three dimensions was 64th, 53rd and 31st, respectively.


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