How are we doing on the human development front here at home? Not too well it seems:
UPDATE: As a point of information, the reference to a 50-point gap between black Americans and Asian Americans should be to the human development index, not life expectancy, which makes a great deal more sense. (To put that in perspective, if the authors are using HDI in the standard way -- which they seem to be -- a 50 point difference is like the difference between living in Norway and living in Ghana.) The actual gap between the life expectancy of poor black Americans and Asian Americans is closer to 15 years.
The American Human Development Index has applied to the US an aid agency approach to measuring well-being – more familiar to observers of the Third World – with shocking results. The US finds itself ranked 42nd in global life expectancy and 34th in survival of infants to age. Suicide and murder are among the top 15 causes of death and although the US is home to just 5 per cent of the global population it accounts for 24 per cent of the world’s prisoners. Despite an almost cult-like devotion to the belief that unfettered free enterprise is the best way to lift Americans out of poverty, the report points to a rigged system that does little to lessen inequalities.
“The report shows that although America is one of the richest nations in the world, it is woefully behind when it comes to providing opportunity and choices to all Americans to build a better life,” the authors said. Some of its more shocking findings reveal that, in parts of Texas, the percentage of adults who pass through high school has not improved since the 1970s.
Asian-American males have the best quality of life and black Americans the lowest, with a staggering 50-year life expectancy gap between the two groups. Despite the fact that the US spends roughly $5.2bn (£2.6bn) every day on health care, more per capita than any other nation in the world, Americans live shorter lives than citizens of every western European and Nordic country, bar Denmark.