Just a couple of decades ago, it could be argued based on objective data that the United States was the best country in the world to live in. However, according to a recent study published by the Social Science Research Network, America is not what it used to be. In fact, based on the 2015 Social Progress Index (a measure of 52 social indicators), the U.S. is now just the 16th best country in the world to live in, behind countries such as Iceland, Japan and Finland.
Worsening income inequality means the U.S. is not the best country in the world to live in any more
The Gini coefficient (or Gini index) is a well-known measure of income inequality. It goes from 0 (perfect equality) to 1 (all wealth is held by one person). Countries with the most serious problems of income inequality in 2014 based on the Gini Index are Chile (Gini = .501), Mexico (.466), Turkey (.411), United States (.38), and Israel (.376) .
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In a study in 2014, Altman argues the problem is not just about income inequality. He argues that distribution of wealth may be a better measure of actual economic power than distribution of income. Looking at distribution of income, the top 10% of the population controlled 20 times more wealth than the bottom 50% in 1992, by 2010, this number has surged to to 65 (Altman 2012).
Presidential candidate Sanders of Vermont (Independent) recently stated: “The American people are angry; they are hurting; they are sick and tired of Wall Street and the very rich becoming richer while the middle class disappears.”.
Child poverty in the U.S.
In a truly shameful statistic, the United States ranks in 34th place out of 35 countries surveyed in children living in poverty. Poverty here means living in a household that earns less than 50% of the national median. In this measure, the U.S. is behind all major European countries as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand. The only country under us on the list is Romania.
Close to 25% of all children in America live in poverty. That number is the highest among all developed nations, according to povertyprogram.com.
The truth is the U.S. is also slipping economically
The new research also points out that the U.S. is also slipping economically. It highlights: “…myth to be dispelled: we are no longer the world’s largest economy when adjustments are made for purchasing power parity. On the basis of purchasing power (and not by converting everything into dollars), China overtook the United States at the end of 2014. At the end of 2014, China accounted for 16.48% of the world’s purchasing-power adjusted GDP (or $17.632 trillion), and the US made up 16.28% (or $17.416 trillion) (Bird 2014). The United States will continue to shrink if changes are not made.”
See full study below.