Czechs place second among new EU member states in Social Progress Index

Illustrative photo: Ondřej Tomšů

The Czech Republic ranked 26th on the newly published Social Progress Index, compiled by the global non-profit Social Progress Imperative together with the international consultancy Deloitte, among others. Of the new EU member states, only Slovenia ranked higher.

Josef Kotrba,  photo: archive of Deloitte
The index aggregates social and environmental indicators which track three aspects of social progress: basic human needs, foundations of well-being, and opportunity. The Czech Republic ranked 22nd in the 2017 Social Progress Index includes data from 128 countries on 50 indicators.

Deloitte Czech Republic head Josef Kotrba says the survey now includes 18 more countries – and some methodological changes – making a direct comparison difficult. He says the biggest concern in terms of quality of life in recent years is the rising cost of housing.

“There are a few things that reduce comparability with previous years. A few other countries were added to the survey that ranked higher than the Czech Republic. There are also tiny variations, such as for example that we dropped in the perceived crime rate, i.e. what people feel, although in reality, in general, the crime rate is dropping in the Czech Republic.

And that happens – this is not unusual, that people perceive that something differently than the statistical figures because people don’t take their feelings from statistics, and mostly also not from their own personal opinion, they take it indirectly from media, from social media, and other sources. And when the picture is being painted black, they might perceive that it is darkening, although, in reality, it’s not true.”

And more objectively, as an international consultancy, Deloitte follows very closely indicators such as housing –

“Well, I think you’ve spotted one indicator which is driving the Czech Republic down [in the index] and which is fully embedded in reality and that is accessibility to affordable housing. The prices of apartments are increasingly steeply and it’s progressively difficult for young people to purchase or rent an adequate apartment.”

Would you say that has been the most dramatic change?

“It’s a new indicator in the survey, but at the same time, yes, it’s one of the important ones.”

How is the Czech Republic doing, in your view, in the most important indicators, as compared to, for example, the other Visegrad countries [Poland, Slovakia and Hungary]?

Illustrative photo: Ondřej Tomšů
“The Czech Republic is more advanced compared to this peer group, and that’s fully reflected in the index.”

Is there anything you’d like to add to help people understand the relevance of this survey and perhaps how accurate or precise it really is – apart from perceived levels of crime?

“As do many other surveys of its type, it combines objective data which you can easily measure with more subjective indicators. It is important because in reality the way we live our lives is not driven by measurable things only but also by how we feel. Of course, how distant you are from the exactly measurable things, the more space for imprecision or imperfection there is. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore these soft indicators.”