Jamaica Observer

Jamaica may be ranked poorly on a global basis when it comes to its per capita income, but it performs much better on the basis of its social progress, suggesting that Jamaica is getting more bang for its buck for the quality of life.

With a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in purchasing power parity terms of US$9,062 in 2015, the country ranks at 105th out of 183 countries, according to the World Bank, well below the world average of US$15,464.

But, according to the recently published 2016

Social Progress Index, the country ranks 44th out of 77 countries in the world for its level of social progress — the same position that it held for the 2015 Index.

The country performs much better than some countries with higher per capita GDP, and ranks between Bulgaria in Eastern Europe and Kuwait in the Middle East.The

Social Progress Index, affiliated to the World Bank, is a comprehensive framework for measuring social progress that is independent of GDP, but complementary to it.

Top ranked is Finland, followed by Canada, Denmark, Australia and Switzerland. The United Kingdom is ranked ninth and the United States is at 19th.

Highest ranked in the Caribbean region is Costa Rica, followed by Panama and then Jamaica. The island ranks above other listed Caribbean-region countries including Colombia, the Dominican Republic with a score of 65.65, and Venezuela.

Lowest rated is the Central African Republic, followed by Afghanistan, Chad, Angola and Niger.

The overall result for 2016 showed Jamaica to be ahead in some areas, compared to countries with a similar level of development — but behind on others.

“In the Basic Human Needs Dimension, Jamaica performs best on Nutrition and Basic Medical Care, and has most opportunity to improve on the Personal Safety component. In the Foundations of Well being Dimension, Jamaica scores highest on Access to Basic Knowledge, but lags on the Health and Wellness component. In the Opportunity Dimension, Jamaica is strongest on Personal Rights and has the most room to improve on Access to Advanced Education,” the report stated.

Countries with a similar GDP per capita to Jamaica include: Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, El Salvador, Georgia; Guatemala, Indonesia, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Paraguay, Sri Lanka, Swaziland and Ukraine.

The Social Progress score is composed of three areas: Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Well-Being and Opportunity, each of which are divided into four areas.

The Basic Human Needs include nutrition and basic medial care, water and sanitation, shelter, and personal safety. The Foundations of Well-being is composed of access to basic knowledge, access to information and communication, health and wellness, and environmental quality. Opportunity is composed of personal rights, personal freedom and choice, tolerance and inclusion, and access to advanced education.

Jamaica scored an average of 71.94 for Social Progress, 74.32 for Basic Human Needs (ranking it just above Mauritius), 75.94 for Foundations of Wellbeing (ranking it beside Venezuela) and 65.57 for Opportunity (ranking it alongside Lithuania)

Jamaica ranked 78th for Basic Human Needs, 44th for Foundations of Well-being and 34th for Opportunity.

The country scored lowest for Access to Advanced Education with a score of 41.62 — a component of Opportunity; and also scored low for Personal Safety, with a score of 47.11, one of the Basic Human Needs.

Looking at violent crime in particular, Jamaica was ranked at at the very bottom of the list in 122nd position along with 11 other countries, including: Mexico, South Africa, El Salvador, Venezuela, Guatemala, Honduras, Iraq, Nigeria, Guinea, Afganistan, and Central African Republic.

The vision behind the index is a world in which social progress sits alongside GDP as a core benchmark for national performance.

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