Maria Martinez on Europe’s inclusion and social progress

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McKinsey: Where does Europe stand on inclusion and social progress, and what are the factors contributing to its success?

Maria Martinez: Europe really leads in equality, social progress, and life satisfaction. And we should be very proud of that. In terms of equality, we’re not yet at zero in Europe, but we are at 30, which compares very favorably with a score of 40 for the United States and China.

Also, if you compare the difference between the top ten percent of households by disposable income with the lowest ten percent, the income gap in Europe is two-thirds of what it is in the United States. In terms of social mobility, if you happen to live in Scandinavia, it would take you two generations to go from low to middle income. It would take four generations if you’re from continental Europe, and five generations if you’re from the United States.

So we should be proud of that, and proud of the fact that in health, safety and other types of care measures, we are five or six years ahead of any other region on earth in terms of life expectancy. And according to the UN, gender equality in Europe is double that of the United States.

All of this is not only because Europe is structurally different from other regions. I think the collaboration between Europe and the European Union has accomplished many things we need to be very proud of as well. Twenty-two million people have been lifted from poverty thanks to the European Union, and because of the mobility of investments and people, we see less developed regions really moving ahead.

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