This weekend, CNN broadcaster Fareed Zakaria drew attention to America's dismal performance in comparison with other countries.
It demonstrated that Canada ranks far ahead of the United States overall and in the three areas studied: opportunity, basic human needs, and foundations of well-being.
Overall, Canada ranked seventh behind (in order) New Zealand, Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. The United States lagged far back in 16th place.
"Opportunity" looked at personal rights, personal freedom and choice, tolerance and inclusion, and access to advanced education.
New Zealand came first, followed by Canada, which was quicker than other countries to legalize same-sex marriage. America ranked fifth.
"Basic human needs" assessed nutrition and basic medical care, water and sanitation, shelter, and personal safety.
Here, Canada ranked 11th. It was far behind the leader, Denmark, but still well ahead of the United States, which came in 23rd place.
The foundations of well-being looked at access to basic knowledge, access to information and communications, health and wellness, and ecosystem sustainability.
Canada fared worst in this category, ranking 17th overall. Our high greenhouse-gas emissions per capita and expensive cellphone service undermined our performance, but the United States was an even greater laggard, coming in 36th place. The leader in this area was Switzerland.
The study revealed that the United States has the second-highest per capita gross domestic product in the world, but that hasn't necessarily made the country more socially progressive.
Canada's GDP per capita is $35,936, which is ninth in the world and nearly $10,000 behind the United States.
Despite this, Canada still emerged as the highest-ranked G8 country on the Social Progress Index.