Jamaica slips seven spots on social progress index

Jamaica slips seven spots on social progress index

Saturday, September 12, 2020

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JAMAICA has slipped seven spots on a social progress index, compiled by World Bank affiliate Social Progress Imperative, which ranks countries’ relative strengths and weaknesses compared to 15 of their peers with a similar gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.

Jamaica is ranked 57 this year out of 163 countries, down from 50 last year.

Overall, when compared to other countries in the region, Jamaica ranked better than Cuba, Mexico, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, but fell 14 places below Barbados and five places below Trinidad and Tobago. The report was released on Wednesday.

Countries were ranked based on 50 indicators across three broad categories of social progress: basic human need, foundations of well -being, and opportunity. Jamaica ranked 98, 72 and 42 for those categories, respectively, indicating work to be done in the first two and progress being made in the third. But while there was an overall improvement in the “opportunity” category where Jamaica showed better scores for political rights, personal freedom and choice, and inclusiveness, it performed poorly in the area of LGBT rights.

Other areas in which the country did well include equality of political power by social group (ranked 15) and gender (7). And this was before the September 3 General Election saw a significant increase in the number of women elected as Members of Parliament. The report also gives Jamaica good marks when it comes to property rights for women (12) and women with advanced education (48).

The country also ranked high on the list in terms of freedom of religion (21), freedom of expression (20), and performed reasonably well in terms of access to justice (59).

In the broad category of foundations of well-being, the country performed comparatively well in health and wellness with a ranking of 52 for access to quality health care, and 78 for life expectancy at 60 years. In terms of access to basic knowledge, Jamaica ranked 77 for quality education, and 82 for secondary school attainment. When it comes to access to information and communication, the country was rated highly for press freedom (28), but received a low rating for primary school enrolment (140) and access to online governance (136).

In the area of environment quality, Jamaica ranked an unimpressive 108 out of 163 countries for outdoor air-pollution-attributable deaths, but received better scores for greenhouse gas emissions (51) and particulate matter (42) .

In terms of corruption, the country ranked 73, scoring 43 points out of a 100 compared to 44 last year.

However it performed poorest in the area of basic human needs with a score of 79, compared to 81 in 2019. In the fields of nutrition and basic medical care, Jamaica ranked 83, while ranking 113 for water and sanitation, 82 for shelter, and 123 for personal safety. A breakdown of this category also showed poor performance in access to electricity, child mortality rate, maternal mortality rate and undernourishment.

The Social Progress Index is an aggregate index of social and environmental indicators, covering 98 per cent of the world population.

— Sharlene Hendricks

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