Study: In The U.S., Quality Of Life Resembles That Of A Developing Nation

"Across the rural U.S., poverty may seem mostly invisible. But it is just as bad in America as it is in developing countries." (World Vision, 2010)Screengrab / World Vision / YouTube


“We are no longer the country we like to think we are.”

The Social Progress Index, a study released annually that reviews how countries are faring in comparison to one another, shows the U.S. has suffered a stark decline in its standard of living in just the last decade.

New York Times opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof writes that “out of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011.”

Kristof continues, “And the declines in Brazil and Hungary were smaller than America’s.”

Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor and the chair of the advisory panel for the Social Progress Index, told Kristof, “The data paint an alarming picture of the state of our nation, and we hope it will be a call to action… It’s like we’re a developing country.”

The social progress index measures, “nutrition, safety, freedom, the environment, health, education and more — to measure quality of life,” Kristof noted.

The United States, despite its immense wealth, military power and cultural influence, ranks 28th — having slipped from 19th in 2011. The index now puts the United States behind significantly poorer countries, including Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece.

The United States ranks No. 1 in the world in quality of universities, but No. 91 in access to quality basic education. The U.S. leads the world in medical technology, yet we are No. 97 in access to quality health care.

“The Social Progress Index finds that Americans have health statistics similar to those of people in Chile, Jordan and Albania,” Kristof continued, “while kids in the United States get an education roughly on par with what children get in Uzbekistan and Mongolia.”

Porter told Kristof, “We are no longer the country we like to think we are.”

Read the full op-ed.


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