05 June 2013

"We're number one, we're number one, we're number... 21"

"Moreover, this wealthiest of all wealthy nations has been steadily falling behind many other nations of the world. Consider just a few wake-up-call facts from a long and dreary list: The United States now ranks lowest or close to lowest among advanced “affluent” nations in connection with inequality (21st out of 21), poverty (21st out of 21), life expectancy (21st out of 21), infant mortality (21st out of 21), mental health (18th out of 20), obesity (18th out of 18), public spending on social programs as a percentage of GDP (19th out of 21), maternity leave (21st out of 21), paid annual leave (20th out of 20), the “material well-being of children” (19th out of 21), and overall environmental performance (21st out of 21)."
I've not read the book and can't vouce for the source or validity of the data*.  But it's food for thought.  Via Reddit.

*"The book itself was probably sparked by Panel on Understanding Cross-National Health Differences Among High-Income Countries which was a joint effort between the Committee on Population in the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education at the National Research Council and the Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice in the Institute of Medicine. The study was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.


  1. How we rank depends on what a person values and statistics are often gathered in different ways (e.g. what counts toward infant mortality).

    I've become increasingly skeptical of statistics, even if they support my own public policy preferences.

  2. It really depends on the metrics used for each, 18th place for obesity should be good...right? 21st place in poverty sounds pretty sweet too...
    You really need to see the data considered for the rankings to see what. Is really going on.

  3. Yes, we all find it hard to accept...

  4. I'm not surprised. The health and welfare of the citizenry are not priorities for a Congress bought and paid for by rich contributors and lobbyists.

  5. Also: The Price Of Inequality

  6. You don't really need to source it. There are scores of sourced articles out there that tell a similar tale. Americans are delusional and the well funded and propagated Horatio Alger myths of the wealthy die hard.

  7. The Horatio Alger myths are no harder to kill than the myths of Evil Capitalism.

    Several above are correct. You need to know what's being measured. You also need to know what's being measured for some and not for others.

    For example, the US being 21st out of 21 in infant mortality is hokum. The US reporting includes all recorded births and deaths, but some countries don't include premature births in their reporting, some don't include births to girls below a certain age, and so on.

    Naturally, if you report on *all* births and deaths you're going to come out worse than those who selectively eliminate high risk categories from their reports.


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