Is America Great?
You might be surprised to see where America stacks up compared to other nations across the world. In this week’s Fakchex, let’s look at some statistics comparing the United States of America to other countries around the world.
Economic Well-being: America is a rich country, but other countries enjoy a better quality of life.
- While the U.S. makes up less than 5% of the world’s population, it is the world’s largest national economy, and leading global trade leader: it generates and earns more than 20% of the world’s total income.
- Out of 140 countries the U.S. currently ranks as the 12th most expensive country to live in, with Bermuda, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands coming out as the most expensive.
- The U.S. ranks 16th out of 84 countries on the Quality of Life Index. Luxembourg tops the list with the Netherlands and Iceland in 2nd and 3rd place.
- America’s tax rate, in relation to its gross domestic product (GDP) is low. The U.S. ranked 32nd out of 38 countries in 2021 with a ratio of 26.6%, far below the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of 34.1%. Denmark (46.9%), France (45.1%), and Austria (43.5%) took the top 3 spots.
Education and Childcare: The U.S. only ranks high in the cost of a college education.
- According to results from the 2018 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment), out of 71 countries the U.S. placed 38th in math and 24th in science. However, among the 34 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (the PISA sponsor), the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.
- The U.S. ranked 2nd on the list of most expensive undergraduate tuition, just below England. Out of 15 other countries, students in the U.S. pay an average of $9,212 per year, while countries at the bottom of the list, like Italy, pay only $1,985 per year.
Childcare: The U.S. Ranks 36th out of 38 Countries for the Overall Well-being of Its Children
- The U.S., Bulgaria, and Chile came in the bottom three spots when judged based on data compiled from a range of wellness markers, while Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway took the top 3 spots.
Healthcare Costs and Outcomes: The U.S. ranks high in cost, but not in quality.
- Out of 11 high-income countries, the U.S. simultaneously spends the most and ranks the last in healthcare.
- The U.S. also has the highest rate of maternal deaths among high-income countries, with Black women being three times more likely to die from pregnancy related complications than white women are.
- The U.S. currently ranks 12th in the world for obesity. U.S. obesity rates have more than doubled since 1980 – roughly 2 out of 3 U.S. adults are overweight or obese.
Crime and Punishment: The U.S. is #1.
- The United States ranked 8th out of 64 countries for homicides by firearm, with Puerto Rico (U.S. territory), the Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands (U.S. territory) ranking as the highest. When looking exclusively at high-income countries and territories with populations of 10 million or more, the U.S. ranked 1st.
- The United States currently incarcerates 698 per 100,000 people – just shy of 1 out of every 100 people. In total, the U.S. currently incarcerates over 2.3 million people, which equates to about one out of five prisoners in the world.
- While more than 70% of the world’s countries have abolished capital punishment, the U.S. continues this practice. In 2022, Amnesty International recorded at least 883 executions in 20 countries, with 18 of those taking place in the U.S., placing it 5th on the list for most executions. The only countries to have carried out more were Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China.
- According to a study published in the International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, out of 139 mass shootings, the U.S. accounted for 73% of shootings that occurred in developed countries between 1998 and 2019 with a total of 101 shootings, totaling 816 deaths. France had the next highest number with just 8, totaling 179 deaths.
Quality of Life
- According to the Global Happiness Index’s World Happiness Report, the U.S. currently ranks 15th – one spot higher than 2022. The happiest countries are Finland, Denmark and Iceland. Rankings in this report are determined by asking a nationally-representative sample of people how satisfied they are with their lives. Populations that are pro-social, healthy, and prosperous are ranked higher on the list.
- However, the Human Freedom Index, a global measurement of personal, civil, and economic freedom of 165 countries, ranked the U.S. at number 23, a drop from its 2020 ranking of 20. This drop is due to deteriorating economic freedom, bad rankings on criminal justice, and top marginal tax rate (37% nationally), along with California’s added top 13.3% state income tax rate.
While the U.S. continues to be a major provider and consumer of financial resources, it ranks significantly lower than other counties in health, education, and human rights. It is outstanding in measures of gun violence, incarceration, and capital punishment.
Countries that are happier and that report a better quality of life are more likely to have governments that provide social support, with higher GDP per capita, low corruption and the freedom to make key life decisions.
Let’s consider these facts when we talk about how to make American better!
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