A few months ago, Iceland was named the third happiest nation in the world. Michael Porter, a Harvard economist, is now conducting a study looking at how to measure social process in the city of Reykjavík. While looking at how societies thrive, Porter found one area where many countries are lacking is their ability to provide citizens with enough opportunities to change and better their lives, no matter how rich or poor the country is.
Porter’s model differs from previous models because it does not rely solely on financial indicators. Three key elements to the model are: basic human needs, “foundations of well-being,” and improved access to basic healthcare, food and education.
So why Reykjavík? In April, the city announced it would be the first to use the Social Progress Imperative. The new index allows communities to use indicators that make sense in their local context to improve the wellness of citizens. The city will give its data to Porter’s team directly to fill in research gaps.
Reykjavík mayor Dagur Eggertsson said another three important keys to happiness in Iceland are: equality and women’s rights; good schools; and of course “great swimming pools.“
About the Social Progress Imperative
The Social Progress Imperative’s mission is to improve the lives of people around the world, particularly
the least well off, by advancing global social progress by: providing a robust, holistic and innovative
measurement tool—the Social Progress Index; fostering research and knowledge-sharing on social
progress; and equipping leaders and change-makers in business, government and civil society with new
tools to guide policies and programs.