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Report: Measured for Social Progress, U.S. Is a Second-Tier Nation

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Top Countries for Social Progress (Source: Social Progress Index Released June 21, 2017)
Top Countries for Social Progress (Source: Social Progress Index Released June 21, 2017)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: June 21, 2017

You can tell a lot about a nation by the kind of research reports it spews out monthly or quarterly. In the United States, we are bombarded with Federal government reports on Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Durable Goods Orders, Retail Sales, Housing Starts and the like. If you want to know the price of gold or oil or thousands of corporate stock prices, you can get those numbers on a second by second basis on your laptop or mobile app.

Research releases in the United States that measure how the nation is doing in the area of social progress are far fewer and less timely. You’re not going to find such data released monthly or even quarterly. Take, for example, Federal studies that measure homelessness among students in public schools. The most recent research we could find from the U.S. Department of Education measured the data for the 2014-2015 school year. Clearly, it’s not something a rich nation wants to brag about. The report found that pre-K through 12th grade students in the U.S. who had experienced homelessness in the 2014-2015 school year totaled 1,263,323 – double the amount from a decade ago and a stunning 34 percent increase since the economic recovery began in the summer of 2009.

This morning the annual Social Progress Index and report were released, measuring 128 countries based on Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. The United States ranked 18 and was placed in a “second tier” status. The report noted: “Traditional measures of national income, such as GDP per capita, fail to capture the overall progress of societies.”

On the component measuring health and wellness, the report found that the U.S. “performs far below countries at the same level of GDP per capita, registering relative weaknesses on all indicators in the component.” On the component measuring tolerance and inclusion, the researchers found that the U.S. “ranks just 23 in the world across this component, placing it behind less prosperous countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and Costa Rica.”

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