New analysis reveals that no country is living in the Doughnut

A study led by the DEAL Team's Andrew Fanning tracks nations' progress relative to the Doughnut since the early 1990s

We at DEAL are excited to announce the publication of a new study, entitled 'The social shortfall and ecological overshoot of nations' led by Andrew Fanning, DEAL's Data Analysis & Research Lead, together with co-authors Dan O'Neill, Jason Hickel, and Nicolas Roux (read the full PDF here).

The study, published in the journal Nature Sustainability, marks an important advance for Doughnut Economics research by tracking nations’ progress over time in terms of both meeting basic needs and respecting environmental limits in 148 countries since 1992.

At least as exciting as the study itself, Andrew has also led the development of a major update to an interactive website, hosted at, that makes all of the country-level findings available to explore, visualise, and download. You can start exploring the data right here on the DEAL Platform too, using our national doughnuts data explorer tool.

Overall, however, the results show an alarming lack of progress in addressing the dual challenges of meeting the needs of all people within the means of the living planet. The research team found that without urgent changes, national economies will continue to drive ecological breakdown, while delivering slow and insufficient improvements in living standards.

Actions needed to reverse current trends and move towards the Doughnut of social and planetary boundaries clearly depend on the extent of a country’s social shortfall and/or ecological overshoot.

From the perspective of the Doughnut, we are ALL developing countries. Image credit: Karn Bianco/DEAL

Lower-income countries like Nigeria and India tend to still be well within fair shares of most planetary boundaries, but they face an urgent need to accelerate improvements in social performance to meet basic needs. 


Middle-income countries like China and Peru face the challenge of needing to continue improving social performance, while simultaneously scaling back resource use to be within biophysical boundaries. Costa Rica stands out for consistently transforming resources into social achievement more efficiently than any other country, but it also follows the general trend of increasing ecological overshoot over time.


Wealthy countries like the US, UK, and Germany tend to have levels of resource use far beyond their fair shares of planetary boundaries, and their extent of ecological overshoot has generally been increasing. They need to radically scale down resource use without adversely affecting relatively high levels of social performance (based on the fairly low international standard employed by the researchers).


For us at DEAL, these latest findings underscore the urgency and importance of our work focused on turning ideas into transformative action, and on learning with and from others through experiments in co-creating 21st century economies that are regenerative and distributive by design.

We believe that the results of this new article and the accompanying website will inspire additional research and action that builds on the Doughnut — from neighbourhoods to nation — and help shape policy for a more sustainable society. We encourage you to dive in! 

Read the paper:

Fanning, A.L., O’Neill, D.W., Hickel, J., and Roux, N. (2021). The social shortfall and ecological overshoot of nations. Nature Sustainability in press.

Explore the interactive website:

Further Information:

Summary blog by the authors: 'Charting the social shortfall and ecological overshoot of nations'.
Coverage in The Guardian: 'No country has met welfare goals in past 30 years ‘without putting planet at risk’ (by Larry Elliott)





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