What is Prosperity?

Genuine prosperity is about far more than a society’s economy or an individual’s financial wealth; it represents an environment in which everybody is able to reach their full potential. A nation is prosperous when it has effective institutions, an open economy, and empowered people who are healthy and educated.

Prosperity is multifaceted and cannot be defined by simple linear measures. It is a multidimensional concept, which the United States Prosperity Index seeks to measure, explore, and understand as fully as possible. The framework of the Index captures prosperity through three domains, which are the essential foundations of prosperity — Inclusive Societies, Open Economies, and Empowered People.

The Inclusive Societies domain captures the relationship structures that exist within a society, between and among individuals and broader institutions, and the degree to which they either enable or obstruct societal cohesion and collective development. These social and legal institutions are essential in protecting the fundamental freedoms of individuals, and their ability to flourish. This domain consists of the Safety and Security, Personal Freedom, Governance, and Social Capital pillars.

The Open Economies domain captures the extent to which an economy is open to competition, encourages innovation and investment, promotes business and trade, and facilitates inclusive growth. For a society to be truly prosperous, it requires an economy that embodies these ideals. This domain consists of the Business Environment, Market Access and Infrastructure, and Economic Quality pillars.

The Empowered People domain captures the quality of people’s lived experience and the associated aspects that enable individuals to reach their full potential through autonomy and self-determination. This domain consists of the Living Conditions, Health, Education, and Natural Environment pillars.

Together, these domains comprise 11 pillars. For each of the pillars we identified the core concepts that best define them, and are integral to each of them, comprising a structure which:

  • covers all aspects relevant to the pillar;
  • has conceptual clarity and academic backing; and
  • uses a language that speaks to policymakers.

The result is a set of 48 distinct policy-focused elements, organised under the 11 pillars. Each element has been designed to reflect a discrete policy area that policymakers and others can influence, enabling actionable insight to be generated from the Index to help drive policy and other initiatives.

For more information please click on 'What is the Index?' or download the Methodology report.

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