Announcing the Social Progress Index: Provinces of Panama

The Social Progress Imperative is proud to announce the release of the Social Progress Index for the Provinces of Panama, created in partnership with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Minister Eyda Varela de Chinchilla, and INCAE Business School.

The SPI for the provinces of Panama uses 49 indicators of social and environmental outcomes to measure quality of life across all ten provinces and three province-level comarcas, administrative regions with primarily indigenous populations. And, in a major innovation, 43 of the 49 indicators can be disaggregated by gender, creating a detailed picture of both overall quality of life and gender-specific challenges in each province.

The province of Panama – home to the national capital – achieves the highest level of overall social progress (76.20 points), closely followed by Herrera (75.86) and Panama Oeste (74.92). The three majority-indigenous comarcas achieve the lowest scores on social progress: Comarca Ngäbe Buglé (41.60) ranks last, followed by Comarca Guna Yala (48.23) and Comarca Emberá (57.54).



SPI panama map eng
Social progress map of Panama

Some of the most interesting findings of the SPI: Provinces of Panama are the gender-disaggregated results. On average, across the country, women have a higher rate of social progress (75.98) than men (71.81). The province with the highest overall social progress for women is Herrera (80.63), whereas Panama has the highest overall social progress for men (75.95).

The specific gender-based disparities in social progress become even more apparent at the component level. For example, according to scores on the Personal Safety component, women are, in general, considerably safer than men (88.32 points compared to 65.45). This disparity is largely due to the fact that men suffer much higher rates of both homicide and traffic-related deaths. For every one woman murdered in Panama, eight men are killed; for every one woman who dies in a traffic accident, five men die.

Scores in the Health and Wellness component likewise suggest that women tend to be healthier than men, with an SPI score of 78.27 compared to 65.45. In Panama, men commit suicide at seven times the rate that women do, in addition to suffering more deaths from non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and others. Indeed, the average life expectancy for a man in Panama is just 75.4 years compared to 81.4 years for women.

The data also suggest that women invest more in their own human capital: in the Access to Advanced Education component of the index, women (69.76 points) again tend to outscore men (61.55). The disparity in scores is largely due to the fact that significantly larger proportion of women aged 25 and up have some advanced education (25.9%) compared to men of the same age (19.55%). These data suggest that women are investing in their own human capital at a higher rate than men.

However, scores in the Personal Freedom and Choice component complicate this picture: overall, men outscore women (66.31 points compared to 63.50), with two indicators standing out in particular. First, women are employed in the informal economy at a higher rate than men. And second, women suffer from much higher rates of youth unemployment (23.50% compared to 13.18%). These discrepancies suggest that despite better health and higher levels of education, women still do not receive as many opportunities for quality employment as men do.

The first-ever rigorous, gender-disaggregated assessment of quality of life across all provinces and indigenous comarcas of Panama, the SPI for the Provinces of Panama is an important new tool for leaders in government, business, and civil society to better understand disparities in quality of life across the country, in particular the inequities that still exist between men and women. The leadership and collaboration of Minister Varela and the Ministry of Economy and Finance to this essential work shows their commitment to better understanding, and better addressing, Panama’s greatest challenges. To learn more about the SPI: Provinces of Panama, including the specific strengths and weaknesses of each province, see the full report (Spanish).

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