‘Social’ development can be broadly defined as the social, or informal, institutions that empower individuals to make the most of their skills and resources and live a full and complete life. Examples include the way in which norms of non-discrimination help allow women and minorities to access the labour market, or in which community policing can help prevent the threat of violence. By highlighting the role that such institutions play in the development process, the objective of the indices of social development is to track global progress in building and sustaining the social institutions that contribute to human well-being.
Civic Activism refers to the social norms, organizations, and practices which facilitate greater citizen involvement in public policies and decisions. These include access to civic associations, participation in the media, and the means to participate in civic activities such as nonviolent demonstration or petition. Civic engagement is essential in ensuring that public institutions function in an accountable and transparent manner, with participation and representation for all.
Clubs and Associations measures the extent to which there is a rich local associative life within towns, neighborhoods and villages. Such ties are essential in ensuring that individuals who fall on hard times do not also ‘fall through the cracks’, and in securing individuals’ wellbeing through a system of social relations and a community of identity.
Intergroup Cohesion measures the extent to which there is social cohesion between defined religious, ethnic, and linguistic groups, without degeneration into civil unrest or intergroup violence.
Interpersonal Safety and Trust measures the extent to which there is social cohesion between strangers, as manifested through bonds of trust, reciprocity, and absence of criminal intent. In a society with high interpersonal safety and trust, violent crime is rare and people do not have to fear the violation of their personal and property rights.
Gender Equality measures the extent to which women have equal opportunities as men in the fields of education, employment, in the home, and in political life.
Inclusion of Minorities measures level of discrimination against vulnerable groups such as indigenous people, migrants, refugees, or lower caste groups.