The Speed of Change

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Social Technologies maps out how swiftly or slowly life changes around the world

The Washington DC-based futurist research and consulting firm Social Technologies has created the Change Index, a tool used to measure the speed of change in people's lives around the world.

"For futurists, change is central to everything we do, and we wanted to see if we could measure it," says Josh Calder, a futurist at the firm. "We believe it can be another tool to help people understand change in the world's markets--and perhaps spot potentially unstable future hotspots."

How it works

  •     The index is based on changes in urbanization, literacy, GDP per capita, civil liberties, and access to telephone, TV, and the Internet in countries during the last 15 years.
  •     The formula is intended to measure fundamental change in people's lives, and the weighting of the factors reflects this; it is not about the smaller shifts in the lives of the world's wealthy consumers.
  •     Moreover, instability is not the same as change: places such as Colombia, for instance, may have a kind of steady-state instability.
  •     As a result, countries with low scores mostly fall into two categories: less-wealthy countries in which the economy is not enabling people to change their lives, and rich countries where prosperous stability means less is changing.

Interesting patterns that have emerged

  •     Change in the developed world is generally slow in comparison to that in developing countries.
  •     According to the index, the fastest-moving countries in the developed world are Ireland and Taiwan, which seems fairly accurate.
  •     China and Taiwan both share high rates of change, though they are at different stages of development.
  •     The speed of change is not necessarily correlated with openness to it; many things force change, or impede it.

Learn more
To learn more about the Change Index, visit To set up an interview with Calder, contact Hope Gibbs, Social Technologies' leader of corporate communications: hope.gibbs(at)

Josh Calder ) Futurist
Josh Calder, a professional futurist since 1995, is Social Technologies' thought leader. Josh tracks social, economic, and consumer change for corporate and government clients. Areas of special interest include emerging markets, cultural change, and international relations. Josh has an MA in foreign and defense policy from American University and a BA in government from Wesleyan University.

About ) Social Technologies
Social Technologies is a global research and consulting firm specializing in the integration of foresight, strategy, and innovation. With offices in Washington DC, London, Shanghai and Tel Aviv, Social Technologies serves the world's leading companies, government agencies, and nonprofits. For information, please visit, our blog:, and our newsletter:


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