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What countries have the most post-capitalist culture?

Author: Maciamo Hay
Written in July/August 2020.

I have explained the concept of Spiral Dynamics in here. I find the concept fascinating and extremely useful to study the evolution of societies in history, but also to understand the current socio-political situation in modern countries and forecast how societies are going to evolve.

The 8 levels of consciousness of human evolution (Spiral Dynamics vMemes)

The chart is an oversimplification as people within a same country move up the colour spiral at their own pace and settle at one level based on their specific needs. Not everyone in an orange dominated society will reach the orange vMeme. In fact, in most developed countries today a good part of the population (around 30-50%) is still in the blue (Order). That includes a majority of people who work at lower levels of the administration/bureaucracy, in the police and army, for religious organisations, but also lots of school teachers, hospital staff, clerks, secretaries, and anyone working in a very structured and hierarchical environment following rules from above (a boss, the state, one's religion).

People in the orange vMeme (Prosperity) are more self-driven, independent, competitive and ambitious. They include entrepreneurs, investors, bankers, stock brokers/traders, managers, directors, lawyers, realtors, accountants, consultants, advisers, marketers, sales people, programmers, software developers, etc. They make up 20-35% of the working population in developed countries.

What interests me here is to determine the percentage of people who have reached the green vMeme (Community) in various countries. The green includes the post-modern philosophy (relativism, subjectivism, pluralism), post-capitalist economy (sharing economy, participatory economics, commons-based peer production, open-source development), responsible and sustainable capitalism, ethical consumerism, concern for ecology and social fairness, egalitarianism, multiculturalism...

To assess how much a society has adopted the values of the green vMeme, I am going to give scores relating to ecology, fair trade, and collaborative/peer production, social progress, gender equality and LGBT acceptance.

I have considered other variables, but either could not find the data or they had to be rejected for some reasons.

  • The percentage of not-for-profit organisations in a country, or even better, the percentage of people working for such organisations, would surely reflect the share of the population that has adopted green vMeme values. However I could not find any international comparison for that.
  • The amount of donations to charities for environmental protection per capita would also be correlated with the green vMeme, especially if adjusted for GDP per capita, so that poorer countries are not unfairly disadvantaged with regard to the amount of money donated. An international comparison would ideally need to take into account the money donated by country to all environmental charities worldwide. This is because most large charities are located in a handful of countries like the USA, the UK or Germany, and some charities may be more popular in some countries than others. I could only find data for Greenpeace, but as some countries were missing and since including only Greenpeace would skew the data in favour of countries where Greenpeace is better known, I decided not to include the ranking in the overall green vMeme score below.
  • The legality of cannabis in a country may indicate that it is more tolerant and relatistic, two green vMeme values. Nonetheless it is mostly a political issue that can change very quickly, as it did in some US states. The fact that it became legal in Nevada doesn't mean that people in Nevada in general are more green. Nowadays the only country where cannabis is legal in Europe is Georgia, which is certainly not a sign that it is high on the green vMeme. Cannabis used to be legal in countries such as India and Japan because it was used in religion (Hinduism in India and Shintoism in Japan's case). If anything cannabis is more likely to be accepted by the purple vMeme.
  • Military spendings probably go down in countries dominated by green vMeme values. Yet it really depends on a country's geopolitical situation, such as the threat posed by its neighbours. Finland and Japan may have more reason to keep sufficient military spendings than Iceland or Portugal. In any case, a strong military is a sign of the blue vMeme and was included as a variable for that vMeme (here).
  • The Gini coefficient indicates the level of income inequality or wealth inequality within a nation. It may seem that countries with a low Gini coefficient are more egalitarian. However, the Gini coefficient represents the actual state of economic inequality within a society, but what people wish for them to be. If a country had a large percentage of the population that valued egalitarianism it still wouldn't have much effect on how much other people earned. For example, inequaltities in the United States did not rise steadily from the 1980's to the present because Americans wanted to become less egalitarian or politicians took intentional measures to create vast disparities between the rich and the poor. The market did that, through globalisation, delocalisation, robotisation, etc. More socially minded countries can increase tax and redistribution of wealth, but that is not necessarily a sign of green vMeme values. The communists took that to the extreme and they were as blue as it get in the Spiral Dynamics.

1. Consumption of Fairtrade products by country

Country Fairtrade retail (in /capita - 2015) GDP per capita 2017 Balanced Fairtrade score
United Kingdom 33.9 39,758 8.526585844 85.27
Ireland 54.2 69,604 7.786908798 77.87
Switzerland 57.7 80,101 7.2034057 72.03
Finland 31.7 45,670 6.94109919 69.41
Sweden 36.1 54,043 6.679866033 66.80
Austria 21.6 47,718 4.526593738 45.27
Denmark 18.1 57,533 3.146020545 31.46
Netherlands 13.2 48,754 2.707470156 27.07
Germany 12 44,976 2.668089648 26.68
Belgium 10.2 43,289 2.356256786 23.56
Norway 15.6 75,295 2.07185072 20.72
Luxembourg 19.2 106,806 1.797651817 17.98
France 6.7 38,415 1.744110374 17.44
Canada 7.6 44,974 1.689865255 16.90
Australia 9.6 57,613 1.666290594 16.66
Portugal 2.7 18,882 1.42993327 14.30
Estonia 2.5 19,793 1.263072804 12.63
Italy 1.6 32,747 0.4885943751 4.89
United States 2.9 60,055 0.4828906835 4.83
Czechia 0.8 20,326 0.3935845715 3.94
Latvia 0.4 15,625 0.256 2.56
Spain 0.6 28,354 0.2116103548 2.12
Lithuania 0.3 16,450 0.1823708207 1.82
Japan 0.6 38,220 0.1569858713 1.57
Slovakia 0.2 17,552 0.1139471285 1.14
Hong Kong 0.4 61,000 0.06557377049 0.66
South Korea 0.1 30,025 0.03330557868 0.33

The 'balanced score' column is the spent on Fairtrade products per $10,000 of GDP.

Source of Fairtrade retail data (for 2015), except for New Zealand, which uses this data. Countries that aren't listed above have consumption of Fairtrade products under 0.1 per person.

The GDP per capita (nominal) figures are from the United Nations for 2017.

When it comes to ethical consumption, the UK, Ireland top the list, followed by Germanic countries.

2. Peer Production : Wikipedia users & articles per 1000 speakers

Language Wikipedia users No of Speakers Users per 1000 speakers Articles/1000 speakers Average users+articles/1000 Wikipedia score
Swedish 735,785 9,197,090 80.00193539 405.6 242.8009677 24.28
Icelandic 74,322 330,000 225.2181818 151.8 188.5090909 18.85
Norwegian 604,819 4,453,000 135.8228161 215.5 175.661408 17.57
Estonian 141,859 1,105,400 128.3327302 190.2 159.2663651 15.93
Welsh 61,943 965,000 64.18963731 135.7 99.94481865 9.99
Hebrew 658,170 5,302,770 124.1181496 50.8 87.45907479 8.75
Finnish 454,977 5,392,180 84.37719067 90.4 87.38859534 8.74
Slovenian 192,050 2,085,160 92.10324388 80.9 86.50162194 8.65
Dutch 1,082,965 21,944,690 49.34975158 92.1 70.72487579 7.07
Catalan 361,022 7,200,000 50.14194444 90.4 70.27097222 7.03
Macedonian 89,303 1,407,810 63.43398612 75.6 69.51699306 6.95
Latvian 92,267 1,552,260 59.44042879 65.9 62.6702144 6.27
Danish 384,044 5,522,490 69.541819 47.1 58.3209095 5.83
Galician 109,048 2,355,000 46.30488323 70 58.15244161 5.82
Lithuanian 144,747 3,001,860 48.21910416 66.7 57.45955208 5.75
Serbian 268,347 8,957,906 29.95644295 71 50.47822147 5.05
English 39,433,068 505,000,000 78.08528317 12.1 45.09264158 4.51
Scots 72,983 1,500,000 48.65533333 38.35 43.50266667 4.35
Spanish 5,894,754 74,980,460 78.6172024 3.4 41.0086012 4.10
Slovak 190,884 5,187,740 36.79521333 45.1 40.94760666 4.09
French 3,837,876 74,980,460 51.1850154 29.8 40.4925077 4.05
Croatian 240,709 5,752,090 41.84722423 38.1 39.97361211 4.00
German 3,503,083 78,245,280 44.7705344 31.3 38.0352672 3.80
Hungarian 450,671 12,606,130 35.75014695 37.5 36.62507348 3.66
Czech 503,416 13,373,480 37.64285736 34.2 35.92142868 3.59
Bulgarian 273,751 8,157,770 33.55708729 32.4 32.97854365 3.30
Polish 1,044,638 38,663,780 27.01851707 36.7 31.85925854 3.19
Italian 2,001,890 63,655,047 31.44903813 25.4 28.42451906 2.84
Irish 43,814 1,930,000 22.7015544 27.4 25.0507772 2.51
Romanian 527,008 23,782,990 22.15903047 17.2 19.67951523 1.97
Malay 258,192 15,848,500 16.29125785 21.6 18.94562892 1.89
Greek 307,634 13,432,940 22.90146461 13.4 18.1507323 1.82
Russian 2,793,088 167,332,230 16.69187102 9.8 13.24593551 1.32
Japanese 1,660,074 125,000,000 13.280592 9.7 11.490296 1.15
Turkish 1,200,107 70,805,930 16.94924422 5 10.97462211 1.10
Portuguese 2,432,890 220,000,000 11.05859091 4.7 7.879295455 0.79
Korean 634,118 77,166,230 8.21755838 6.5 7.35877919 0.74
Arabic 1,893,097 315,421,300 6.001804571 3.3 4.650902285 0.47
Cantonese 203,609 62,221,560 3.272322327 1.4 2.336161163 0.23
Chinese 2,967,583 1,197,294,060 2.478574896 0.9 1.689287448 0.17

The main problem with these statistics is that they are by language and not by country. It is fine for most countries, but not for languages spoken in many countries like English, Spanish and Portuguese. That's why I added regional languages like Basque, Catalan, Galician, Welsh, Irish and Scots to get a better idea of the local European production in these countries.

3. Ecology score

Country Recycling rate (2018) CO2 emissions per capita (2018) Ecology score (Recycling - CO2)
Germany 67.3 9.1 58.2
Slovenia 58.9 7.5 51.4
Austria 57.7 8.2 49.5
Switzerland 52.5 4.8 47.7
Lithuania 52.5 5 47.5
Netherlands 55.9 9.5 46.4
Belgium 54.6 9.2 45.4
South Korea 59 13.6 45.4
Denmark 49.9 5.8 44.1
Italy 49.8 5.8 44
Sweden 45.8 4.5 41.3
Australia 58 16.8 41.2
France 44 5 39
United Kingdom 44.1 5.6 38.5
Finland 42.3 8.8 33.5
Luxembourg 50.1 16.9 33.2
Ireland 40.4 7.7 32.7
Hungary 37.4 5.4 32
Norway 40.7 9.4 31.3
Spain 36 6 30
Slovakia 36.3 7 29.3
Poland 34.3 8.8 25.5
Bulgaria 31.5 6.3 25.2
Czechia 34.5 10.4 24.1
Portugal 28.9 5.1 23.8
Latvia 25.2 4.1 21.1
Croatia 25.3 4.7 20.6
United States 35.2 16.1 19.1
Estonia 28 14 14
Iceland 25.8 12.1 13.7
Greece 18.9 6.5 12.4
Japan 21 9.4 11.6
Israel 19 7.9 11.1
Cyprus 16.1 6.3 9.8
Peru 11 1.8 9.2
Costa Rica 10 1.8 8.2
Canada 24 16.1 7.9
Turkey 11.5 4.4 7.1
Romania 11.1 4.1 7
Argentina 11 4.7 6.3
Uruguay 8 2.8 5.2
Malta 6.5 3.5 3
Mexico 5 3.8 1.2
Montenegro 5.5 6.3 -0.8
Brazil 1 2.4 -1.4
Chile 1 4.6 -3.6
North Macedonia 0 3.9 -3.9
Russia 7 12.1 -5.1
Serbia 0.3 6.3 -6
Bosnia & Herzegovina 0 7.8 -7.8
China 30 7.2 22.8
Taiwan 55 10.3 44.7
Singapore 59 4.3 54.7
Qatar 1 44 -43
Kuwait 11 23.9 -12.9
Saudi Arabia 1 18.6 -17.6
New Zealand 58 7.1 50.9
Hong Kong 30 5.7 24.3
Malaysia 21 8 13

It was not easy to choose data that would reflect the environmental awareness, concern and action of individual citizens, as opposed to governments and companies.

I wanted to include solar panels penetration by country, but that would have given an unfair advantage to sunnier countries where PV panels are more useful and profitable. What's more, I could not find data on the percentage of residential homes equipped with PV, as opposed to companies and industries.

Likewise the total renewable energy produced in a country per capita is not a good indicator as it depends on government policies (just a few people) and the natural resources and opportunities available in each country, rather than actual desire to switch to renewable energy.

I wish I could have added the percentage of people donating to environmental charities (as opposed to all charities, which may be motivated by religion or other concerns in the blue vMeme), but I could not find such data.

That's why I had to settle for municipal waste recycling rates and CO2 emissions per capita. Nevertheless combining the two gives a surprising realistic score of environmental concern by country.

4. Social Progress & Gender Equality

Country Social Progress Gender Inequality Social score
Norway 90.95 0.044 86.55
Switzerland 89.89 0.037 86.19
Denmark 90.09 0.04 86.09
Sweden 89.45 0.04 85.45
Finland 89.56 0.05 84.56
Netherlands 88.31 0.041 84.21
Iceland 89.29 0.057 83.59
France 87.79 0.051 82.69
Belgium 86.77 0.045 82.27
Canada 88.81 0.083 80.51
Germany 88.84 0.084 80.44
Spain 87.47 0.074 80.07
Luxembourg 87.66 0.078 79.86
South Korea 85.61 0.058 79.81
Austria 86.4 0.073 79.1
Portugal 87.12 0.081 79.02
Slovenia 85.8 0.069 78.9
Italy 85.69 0.069 78.79
Ireland 87.97 0.093 78.67
Japan 88.34 0.099 78.44
Australia 88.02 0.103 77.72
Singapore 83.23 0.065 76.73
United Kingdom 87.98 0.119 76.08
New Zealand 88.93 0.133 75.63
New Zealand 88.93 0.133 75.63
Estonia 83.98 0.091 74.88
Cyprus 83.14 0.086 74.54
Israel 81.44 0.1 71.44
Czech Republic 84.36 0.137 70.66
Greece 82.48 0.122 70.28
Poland 81.25 0.12 69.25
Lithuania 81.3 0.124 68.9
Croatia 79.21 0.122 67.01
United States 83.62 0.182 65.42
Latvia 80.42 0.169 63.52
Malta 82.63 0.195 63.13
Slovakia 80.43 0.19 61.43
Serbia 71.59 0.161 55.49
North Macedonia 68.92 0.145 54.42
Bulgaria 76.17 0.218 54.37
Hungary 78.77 0.258 52.97
Costa Rica 80.65 0.285 52.15
Chile 80.02 0.288 51.22
Uruguay 77.77 0.275 50.27
Qatar 69.37 0.202 49.17
China 64.54 0.163 48.24
Malaysia 74.17 0.274 46.77
Russia 69.71 0.255 44.21
Romania 74.81 0.316 43.21
Saudi Arabia 63.95 0.224 41.55
Argentina 76.86 0.354 41.46
Mexico 71.51 0.334 38.11
Turkey 67.49 0.305 36.99
Brazil 72.87 0.386 34.27
Peru 71.31 0.381 33.21

The reflection of egalitarian, fairness and equal opportunities can be encapsulated in a combination of two indices. The first is the Social Progress Index, a complex index that takes into account basic human needs, health, environment, education, access to information, personal rights, personal freedoms and choices, social inclusiveness of LGBT and ethnic minorities, equal opportunities by gender and socioeconomic status, etc. The second is the United Nations' Gender Inequality Index, a negative score which I deducted (after multiplying by 100 as it was rated on 1 and not 100) to obtain an overall social score. I know that gender equality was already included in the social progress index, but I felt it was important to give it more weight as gender equality is a very important value of the green vMeme.

5. LGBT Acceptance

The 5th dimension is social acceptance of LGBT people. It is based on a 2019 global report of the same name by the Williams Institute at UCLA. The data is for the period 2014-2017.

Country UCLA 2017 Score in percent
Iceland 8.9 89
Netherlands 8.6 86
Canada 8.2 82
Norway 8.2 82
Spain 8.1 81
Belgium 7.9 79
Denmark 7.9 79
Ireland 7.9 79
Sweden 7.9 79
Luxembourg 7.7 77
United Kingdom 7.7 77
Malta 7.6 76
Uruguay 7.6 76
New Zealand 7.5 75
Finland 7.4 74
Germany 7.4 74
Switzerland 7.4 74
Australia 7.3 73
United States 7.2 72
France 7.1 71
Argentina 6.9 69
Austria 6.8 68
Brazil 6.8 68
Chile 6.7 67
Hong Kong 6.5 65
Italy 6.4 64
Portugal 6.4 64
Mexico 6.3 63
Costa Rica 6.1 61
Czechia 6 60
Slovenia 5.9 59
Taiwan 5.7 57
Israel 5.4 54
Peru 5.3 53
Croatia 5.2 52
Cyprus 5.1 51
Greece 5 50
Slovakia 5 50
Estonia 4.9 49
Hungary 4.9 49
Japan 4.9 49
South Korea 4.9 49
Poland 4.8 48
Singapore 4.8 48
Bulgaria 4.6 46
Latvia 4.4 44
Turkey 4.4 44
Serbia 4.2 42
Malaysia 4.2 42
Lithuania 4.1 41
Romania 4.1 41
China 3.9 39
Kuwait 3.5 35
Russia 3.4 34
Qatar 3.2 32
North Macedonia 3 30
Saudi Arabia 3 30

Overall score

I gave a score on 100 for the first four categories, made an average in percent then added a custom Wikipedia score to the total as a bonus. In other words: (ecology + social + fairtrade + LGBT)/4 + Wikipedia.

Unsurprisingly Sweden tops the ranking for all values associated with the green vMeme. Note that no data was available for Fairtrade for countries like Iceland, Malta, Israel or Singapore, so their overall score is a bit different than what it should be.

The levels of the spiral are about values and mindset. Even though the 6th level, or green vMeme, corresponds to a postmodern or post-capitalist society, the five factors taken into account in my assessment are purely about values and not wealth or GDP per capita. That's why countries like Slovenia, Estonia and Lithuania can outperform economic powerhouses like the United States or Australia. In fact Luxembourg, which has the highest GDP per capita in the Western world, only gets an average score here. Countries obsessed with making money are often dominated by the orange vMeme (5th level). With too many people stuck in the orange mindset, it's only logical that fewer move on to the green level of consciousness, which is about quality of life rather than getting rich at all costs.

Country Ecology score Social score Fairtrade score LGBT score TOTAL Wikipedia score Overall score
Sweden 41.3 85.45 66.8 79 68.14 24.28 92.42
Iceland 13.7 83.59 89 62.10 18.85 80.95
Finland 33.5 84.56 69.41 74 65.37 8.74 74.11
Switzerland 47.7 86.19 72.03 74 69.98 3.9 73.88
United Kingdom 38.5 76.08 85.27 77 69.21 4.4 73.61
Norway 31.3 86.55 20.72 82 55.14 17.57 72.71
Ireland 32.7 78.67 77.87 79 67.06 3.51 70.57
Netherlands 46.4 84.21 27.07 86 60.92 7.07 67.99
Denmark 44.1 86.09 31.46 79 60.16 5.83 65.99
Austria 49.5 79.1 45.27 68 60.47 3.8 64.27
Germany 58.2 80.44 26.68 74 59.83 3.8 63.63
Belgium 45.4 82.27 23.56 79 57.56 6 63.56
New Zealand 50.9 75.63 32.07 75 58.40 4.5 62.90
Singapore 54.7 76.73 48 59.81 0.17 59.98
Australia 41.2 77.72 16.66 73 52.15 4.5 56.65
France 39 82.69 17.44 71 52.53 4.05 56.58
Slovenia 51.4 78.9 0 59 47.33 8.65 55.98
Luxembourg 33.2 79.86 17.98 77 52.01 3.9 55.91
Israel 11.1 71.44 54 45.51 8.75 54.26
Estonia 14 74.88 12.63 49 37.63 15.93 53.56
Spain 30 80.07 2.12 81 48.30 3.8 52.10
Canada 7.9 80.51 16.9 82 46.83 4.5 51.33
Taiwan 44.7 57 50.85 0.17 51.02
Portugal 23.8 79.02 14.3 64 45.28 5.7 50.98
Italy 44 78.79 4.89 64 47.92 2.84 50.76
Malta 3 63.13 76 47.38 47.38
Lithuania 47.5 68.9 1.82 41 39.81 5.75 45.56
United States 19.1 65.42 4.83 72 40.34 4.5 44.84
South Korea 45.4 79.81 0.33 49 43.64 0.74 44.38
Czechia 24.1 70.66 3.94 60 39.68 3.59 43.27
Slovakia 29.3 61.43 1.14 50 35.47 4.09 39.56
Latvia 21.1 63.52 2.56 44 32.80 6.27 39.07
Croatia 20.6 67.01 0 52 34.90 4 38.90
Poland 25.5 69.25 0 48 35.69 3.19 38.88
Hungary 32 52.97 0 49 33.49 3.66 37.15
Uruguay 5.2 50.27 0 76 32.87 4.10 36.97
Japan 11.6 78.44 1.57 49 35.15 1.15 36.30
Cyprus 9.8 74.54 0 51 33.84 1.82 35.66
Greece 12.4 70.28 0 50 33.17 1.82 34.99
Bulgaria 25.2 54.37 0 46 31.39 3.3 34.69
Costa Rica 8.2 52.15 0 61 30.34 4.10 34.44
Argentina 6.3 41.46 0 69 29.19 4.10 33.29
Chile -3.6 51.22 0 67 28.66 4.10 32.76
Hong Kong 24.3 0.66 65 29.99 0.23 30.22
Mexico 1.2 38.11 0 63 25.58 4.10 29.68
Peru 9.2 33.21 0 53 23.85 4.10 27.95
Serbia -6 55.49 0 42 22.87 5.05 27.92
China 22.8 48.24 0 39 27.51 0.17 27.68
Malaysia 13 46.77 0 42 25.44 1.89 27.33
North Macedonia -3.9 54.42 0 30 20.13 6.95 27.08
Brazil -1.4 34.27 0 68 25.22 0.79 26.01
Romania 7 43.21 0 41 22.80 1.97 24.77
Turkey 7.1 36.99 0 44 22.02 1.1 23.12
Russia -5.1 44.21 0 34 18.28 1.32 19.60
Saudi Arabia -17.6 41.55 0 30 13.49 0.47 13.96
Qatar -43 49.17 0 32 9.54 0.47 10.01
Kuwait -12.9 0 35 7.37 0.47 7.84

Follow-up

Link between post-capitalist culture and higher happiness

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