Social development is about putting people at the centre of development. Since the 1990s there has been growing recognition that social development is critical for broader development outcomes, including sustainable economic growth. But until now, data limitations have hindered international comparative research capable of showing weaknesses and strengths across countries, as well as the links between social development and other development outcomes.
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The Indices of Social Development (ISD) hosted by the International Institute of Social Studies has the potential to change this. It brings together 275 indicators, synthesizing them into a usable set of measures to track how different societies perform along six dimensions of social development:
- Civic Activism, measuring use of media and protest behaviour
- Clubs and Associations, defined as membership in local voluntary associations
- Intergroup Cohesion, which measures ethnic and sectarian tensions, and discrimination
- Interpersonal Safety and Trust, focusing on perceptions and incidences of crime and personal transgressions
- Gender Equality, reflecting gender discrimination in home, work and public life.
- Inclusion of Minorities, measures levels of discrimination against vulnerable groups such as indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees, or lower caste groups.