The latest rankings are out from the Social Progress Index, which is designed to measure actual quality of life rather than an abstraction like GDP. The SPI takes into account medical factors, such as life expectancy, suicide rates, and infant mortality; educational factors like literacy and the percentage of 16-year-olds in high school; the availability of clean water and electricity; homelessness; quality of housing and transportation; and political factors like freedom of speech and religion. The United States ranks 16th, behind even much poorer countries like Ireland and Iceland.
5 New Zealand
16 United States
The United States lags because of poverty. Middle class Americans score on all these measures right around where people in Scandinavia do. But because we give our poor citizens much less help than they do, poor Americans have much shorter life expectancy, more illness, and less education than poor Swedes or even Irish.
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