The Myth of US Superiority

The myth of US superiority remains strong.  No need to make structural changes in our system or learn from others.  We enjoy the very best of everything–the envy of the world.  Well, not according to the data in the 2009 edition of the OECD’s Social Indicators.

Doug Henwood, editor of Left Business Observer, sums up the data as follows:

The general picture of the social and physical health of the U.S. isn’t pretty. In a summary table at the beginning of the volume, countries are rated with a red, yellow, or green symbol, depending on whether they fall in the bottom, middle, or top of the rankings on eight crucial indicators. The U.S. scores a yellow on six (among them employment, reading skills, the gender wage gap, and life expectancy), and a red on two (inequality and infant mortality). But we are near the top in income.  Far poorer countries, like Hungary and the Czech Republic, do a lot better than this imperial colossus. Maybe it’s not so bad to have a Commie past.  And not only does the U.S. turn in an awful performance—we’ve been getting worse on six of the eight.

To see a more in-depth examination of some of the indicators, complete with charts highlighting the relative performance of the US visit THIS PAGE.


One thought on “The Myth of US Superiority

  1. I find most of these statistics convincing and illustrative of the argument being made. Two seem not a good fit: hours worked and preference for hours worked.

    Any country that has relatively low marginal tax rates (and relatively less progressive tax rate structures) is going to see more hours worked. And an implication of this very simple application of the law of supply is that the % of people working long hours will be happy doing so.


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