CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- I have seen how Rwanda made investing in social progress -- including gender equity, a 61 percent reduction in child mortality in a single decade, and 95 percent primary school enrollment -- integral to its economic development strategy. Rwanda's positive economic performance would not have been possible without improvement in these and other dimensions of social progress.
As Americans, we like to think of ourselves as a world leader. Yet the new Social Progress Index, a comprehensive framework measuring numerous important social outcomes, paints a very different picture - the U.S. ranks only 16th of 132 countries measured, behind other large countries such as Germany, the UK, Japan and Canada. On Health and Wellness, for example, we spend more on health care than any country in the world but in terms of the outcomes achieved--such as obesity and life expectancy--we are number 70 in the world, way below our advanced economy peers.