The UK based Legatum Institute conducts an annual prosperity survey of 104 countries, India and China among them. It measures prosperity not just as wealth, but includes factors such as health, safety, democracy, and social capital – the confidence in relationships. In fact, it considers nine separate indicators. According to the Legatum website, “The nine sub-indexes are:
- Economic Fundamentals – a growing, sound economy that provides opportunities for wealth creation
- Entrepreneurship and Innovation – an environment friendly to new enterprises and the commercialization of new ideas
- Democratic Institutions – transparent and accountable governing institutions that promote economic growth
- Education – an accessible, high-quality educational system that fosters human development
- Health – the physical wellbeing of the populace
- Safety and Security – a safe environment in which people can pursue opportunity
- Governance – an honest and effective government that preserves order and encourages productive citizenship
- Personal Freedom – the degree to which individuals can choose the course of their lives
- Social Capital – trustworthiness in relationships and strong communities.”
An application on its website allows a visual comparison of individual countries along nine axes. This picture is based on the 2009 survey. The green boundary is India; the blue one, China; and (just for reference), the red one is the US.
What’s particularly interesting is how the separate social and economic paths India and China have taken reflect in their scores. India is ahead in democratic institutions, personal freedom, and governance. It also scores very high on social capital, indicating a society where relationships are valued and trusted. Even the poor may be rich in family and friends. China scores better on economic indicators and innovation – and also in such public welfare matters as safety, health, and education.