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Socio-economic Indicators

Public institutions utilise a wide variety of techniques to evaluate socio-economic development. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the most commonly used indicator of economic activity. It calculates the value of goods or services sold within a region over a limited period of time. The Human Development Index (HDI) expands on GDPs economic indication by adding regional life expectancy and education to a measure of personal income. The Walk Free Foundation use data to construct The Global Slavery Index using 24 variables including: political rights and safety; financial and health protections; protection for the most vulnerable; and conflict.

The Social Progress Index (SPI) divides development into 3 distinct categories: basic human needs; foundations of wellbeing; and opportunity. SPI was designed using the teachings of Amartya Sen, Douglass North and Joseph Stiglitz. Each dimension is broken down into several categories and was created to exclude economic indicators in an effort to disassociate cause and effect.

The are numerous other mechanisms to evaluate various regions and states and all come with advantages and disadvantages. Of the systems mentioned the Human Trade Assessment feels most closely related to the SPI although we criticise all these evaluation mechanisms for the lack of public engagement. Each index is easily recognised by public officials, academics and corporate investment teams but all do little to engage normal people or identify personal circumstances. In an ideal world social progress would not be left to elite circles and everyone would have the opportunity to support development with community-based monitoring.

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