Sweden Rated Tops Worldwide in Social Progress

United States only pulls 27th ranking in new report

(HealthDay is the new name for HealthScoutNews.)

WEDNESDAY, July 23, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Social progress in the United States has been "on hold" since the 1980s, contends a University of Pennsylvania researcher, causing the country to rank 27th of 163 nations worldwide in a new "world social report."

Rating countries on their ability to meet residents' social needs, the report ranks Sweden and Denmark at the top, followed by Norway, Finland, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Iceland, Italy and Belgium. The 10 countries ranked at the bottom are Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Angola, Liberia, Niger, Guinea, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).

Richard Estes, a professor of social work at Penn, considered a range of social needs to develop the ranking, including how well countries meet people's needs for health, education, human rights, political participation, population growth, improved women's status, cultural diversity and freedom from social chaos. Results of his study, based mainly on data from the United Nations and the World Bank, were presented July 21 in Germany at a conference of the International Society for Life Quality Studies.

Estes cited chronic poverty as the biggest threat to social progress in the United States, which he says has 33 million poor residents. "No other economically advanced country tolerates such a level of poverty," he says.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about poverty and health worldwide.

SOURCE: University of Pennsylvania, news release, July 21, 2003
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