Anyone invested in the state of the world today is interested in the Social Progress Imperative. The not-for-profit group aims to promote social inclusion and create a universal system by which the advancements and progresses of the world’s nations can be measured - the Social Progress Indicator. The Social Progress Indicator scores countries on a number of different topics, from economic trade and output, to less traditionally quantified activities such as social inclusion, health care and freedom of expression. The group recently published their 2014 findings, and the scoring around tolerance proved particularly interesting.
At first glance the concept of scoring something as intangible as tolerance may seem like a difficult challenge, but there is a great need for calibration of such social statistics. Once a problem is measured and quantified, it is easier to both see the size and scale of the problem, and develop a solution that befits the issue. The basic questions around which the scoring of tolerance is based are as follows: Does a country provide for its people’s most essential needs? Are the building blocks in place for individuals and communities to enhance and sustain well being? And is there opportunity for all individuals to reach their full potential? The scoring for tolerance asks us to apply these questions to minority groups in our society, be those ethnic, religious or social.
The scoring on tolerance reveals a lot about our societies and how we live in communities, and those at the top of the ladder demonstrate the ability for modern nations to create societies that are both welcoming and accepting of man’s idiosyncrasies and differences. While no nation is perfect, these countries are striving to create a better community for their citizens and their policies can be pointed to as those which an inclusive nation should strive towards. The figures for each country correspond to the rating they were given by the Social Progress Indicator’s ranking system, graded on a scale of zero tolerance to 100 (fully tolerant). We've taken a look at these ten most tolerant nations in the world to see what it is that makes them so successfully tolerant and inclusive.
10 Netherlands: 75.45
9 Denmark: 76.64
8 Sweden: 78.13
7 Uruguay: 78.33
6 Australia: 78.7
5 Finland: 78.74
4 New Zealand: 82.41
3 Ireland: 84.46
2 Canada: 86.79
1 Iceland: 88.44
A country as remote as Iceland may not immediately spring to mind when it comes to tolerance, but it would be a mistake to dismiss this northern island nation. While traditionally the country has by virtue of its geography been fairly insular, recent years have seen the nation teach the rest of the EU how to weather national hardship while establishing itself as an exemplar of social acceptance. Iceland for most people is a nation known for its serene landscapes, disruptive volcanoes, precarious banking system - and Björk. Dig a little deeper however and there is a lot more to be found: In 2009 Iceland made history by becoming the first nation in the world to elect an openly gay person as Prime Minister. Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir was the longest serving member of parliament prior to her election and on becoming Prime Minister further demonstrated the nation’s levels of tolerance as it became the first in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Way back in 1996, Iceland had also been the first nation in the world to introduce same-sex partnerships.
Alongside this forward-thinking and inclusive attitude to the LGBT community, Iceland’s welfare system and protection of the poor have also been viewed as highly progressive. The island nation is no doubt a small fish in a big sea: with a population of only 320,000 it is easy to overlook the nation’s influence on a global scale. But the model of tolerance and inclusion promoted by Iceland’s government is such that they stand head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to acceptance and inclusion of those who, in many other parts of the world, feel marginalised from any sense of community. Iceland, as the most tolerant nation in the world today, is the example for all other nations to follow.
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