When It Comes to Social Progress, the Average Human Lives in Cuba

A newly released index measures social progress across 133 countries, independent of economics.

There is no shortage of indices measuring and comparing the diverse experience of being a human in 2015. But there’s one thing that studies like the OECD Better Life Index, Gross National Happiness Index, and the Human Development Index all have in common: money. Or more specifically, the inclusion of gross domestic product (GDP) or or gross national income as a defining metric.

The idea behind the Social Progress Index, released this week by the U.K.-based Social Progress Imperative, is slightly different. Measuring 133 countries across 52 indicators, the SPI is the only data-driven index measuring social progress and human wellbeing that doesn’t take economic growth into account. In a world where global development projects increasingly fall under a model of export-led GDP growth, the SPI is out to prove that GDP is not always destiny.

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