U.S. ranks 27th in Report card on world social progress

This is part of the text of a report presented by Dr. Richard Estes of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work at the Fifth International Conference of the International Society for Life Quality Studies. I have known Dr. Estes for years and he is an exemplary person, who has founded numerous social help foundations around the world. He also has some of the best knowledge and insight on social trends of anyone on the globe. I thought this information might be of interest to you.

“Denmark and Sweden lead the world in social progress, Afghanistan is at the bottom of the list and the United States ranks 27th among 163 nations, according to the latest Index of Social Progress.

“The last decade has seen a sharp deterioration in overall life quality for vast segments of the world’s populations, especially for people living in the poorest nations of Africa and Asia. Even people in previously well-off countries are not doing as well today.” Said Dr. Richard Estes.

“The nations comprising the top 10 are Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Iceland, Italy and Belgium and the bottom 10 are Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia, Niger, Guinea, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).

“Dr. Estes put the U.S. on the same level as Poland and Slovenia in the current ‘report card’. ‘Chronic poverty is the greatest threat to social progress in the United States, with 33 million Americans, almost 12 million of them children, are poor.’

Using data provided by national governments to the United Nations and the World Bank, Estes’s study measures the ability of nations to meet the needs of their residents for health, education, human rights, political participation, population growth, women’s status, cultural diversity and freedom from social chaos.

“Current social conditions, Estes said, are especially poor in Middle, West and East Africa. China shows social growth surpassing India, and China moved from 73rd place in 1980 to 69th place, while India dropped 26 points to 111th. Development trends in India reflect increased difficulty in managing social conflict, health care, environmental degradation, and losses in the low status of women.

Latin America has “lackluster” social progress, and European social development is at a “virtual standstill, throughout much of the 1990’s”. “High unemployment, low fertility, rapid population aging, and expensive welfare arrangements are limiting the ability of many European countries to compete in the new global economy.” Estes said.

Estes will publish his full report later this year in a book: “At the crossroads: Development Challenges of the New Century”.