September 15, 2020

Finland shines as beacon of social progress

Two girls filling a cup with tap water.
Finland reported fewer deaths attributable to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene per 100,000 inhabitants than any of the 192 other countries listed in this year’s edition of the Social Progress Index.
Jukka Rapo/Keksi/UM

Finland has been ranked as the world’s third most socially progressive country in the latest edition of the Social Progress Index, a composite measure of dozens of factors affecting social development and wellbeing put together by Social Progress Imperative.

The annual index evaluates the performance of countries across three main pillars: basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing and opportunity. Each of the pillars is divided into four of sub-pillars and the sub-pillars, in turn, into a total of 50 variables.

Finland received the highest score in 14 of the variables, including each of the three making up the sub-pillar of shelter: usage of clean fuels and technology for cooking, access to electricity, and household air pollution-attributable deaths. Other areas where the country excelled included nutrition and basic medical care, gender parity in secondary education attainment and inclusiveness.

The country performed less admirably in areas such as greenhouse gas emissions, biome protection and freedom of religion, ranking 117th, 102nd and 95th, respectively.

Its total score of 91.89 nonetheless fell short only of that of Denmark (92.11) and Norway (92.73).

The top 10 of the 193-country index was rounded out by New Zealand (91.64), Sweden (91.62), Switzerland (91.42), Canada (91.40), Australia (91.29), Iceland (91.09) and the Netherlands (91.06).

The three worst scores were handed to South Sudan (31.06), Chad (31.29) and Central African Republic (31.62).

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