How does the U.S. compare to other developed countries on measures of social justice? According to the New York Times, not very well. The visual below compares countries’ poverty rates, poverty prevention measures, income inequality, spending on pre-primary education, and citizen health. The “overall” rating is on the far left and the U.S. ranks 27th out of 31.
Skewed sex ratios (which I’ve written about here and here) are in the news, with the publication of Unnatural Selection, by Mara Hvistendahl. The report shows some of the countries with the most skewed sex ratios, reflecting the practice of parents aborting female fetuses (Vietnam and Taiwan should be in there, too). With the exception of Korea, they’ve all gotten more skewed since the 1990s, when ultrasounds became more widely available, allowing parents to find out the sex of the fetus early in the pregnancy.
The most egregious inequality between women of the world is probably in maternal mortality. This chart shows, for example, that the chance of a woman dying during pregnancy or birth is about 100- 39-times higher in Africa than Europe. The chart also shows how many of those deaths are from unsafe abortions.
Finally, I made this one myself, showing women as a percentage of parliament in most of the world’s rich countries (the spreadsheet has the whole list). The USA, with 90 women out of 535 members of Congress, comes in at 17%.
Does American prosperity translate into long retirements? Not compared to other developed countries in the world. Flowing Data borrowed OECD numbers on life expectancy and age of retirement to calculate the average number of years in retirement for men and women across many different countries. The portion of each bar with the line is the average number of years working, while the non-lined portion represents years in retirement.
Largely because of life expectancy, women enjoy more years than men in all states except Turkey, but the number of years varies quite tremendously, from an average of zero years for men in Mexico, to an average of 26 years for women in Austria and Italy. The United States is way down on this list, not doing so well relatively after all.
Deeb K. sent in a story from the New York Times about who does unpaid work — that is, the housework, carework, and volunteering that people do without financial compensation. Based on time-use surveys by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this chart shows how many more minutes per day women in various nations spend doing such activities compared to men:
Childcare stuck out as an area with a particularly large gap:
On child care in particular, mothers spend more than twice as much time per day as fathers do: 1 hour 40 minutes for mothers, on average, compared to 42 minutes for fathers…On average, working fathers spend only 10 minutes more per day on child care when they are not working, whereas working mothers spend nearly twice as much time (144 minutes vs. 74) when not working.
The full OECD report breaks down types of unpaid work (this is overall, including data for both men and women):
The study also found that non-working fathers spend less time on childcare than working mothers in almost every country in the study (p. 19). And mothers and fathers do different types of childcare, with dads doing more of what we might think of as the “fun stuff” (p. 20):
Source: Miranda, V. 2011. “Cooking, Caring and Volunteering: Unpaid Work around the World.” OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 116. OECD Publishing.
An infographic accompanying an article at the New York Times reveals how “advanced economies” compare on various measures of equality, well-being, educational attainment, and more. To illustrate this, for each measure countries that rank well are coded tan, countries that rank poorly and very poorly are coded orange and red respectively, and countries that are in the middle are grey. The countries are then ranked from best to worst overall, with Australia coming in #1 and the United States coming in last. You might be surprised how some of these countries measure up.
The United States is a nation of immigrants… in that the majority of its citizens are not part of the native population of North America. In other words, because it was and remains a colonized land.
That aside, is the United States unique in receiving an extremely large number of new immigrants relative to its size? It turns out, No.
Lane Kenworthy, at Consider the Evidence, posted this figure, showing that the U.S. population does indeed include a substantial proportion of first generation immigrants (both legal and illegal), but it is not unique in that regard, nor does it carry the highest percentage:
It also fails to be true, as many anti-immigration people claim, that the U.S. accepts a uniquely large number of immigrants who need help once they arrive:
Claude Fischer at Made in America offered some data speaking to the idea that Americans are especially patriotic. That they, in other words, are more likely than citizens of other nations to think that “We’re Number One!”
Fischer provides some evidence by Tom Smith at the International Social Science Programme (ISSP; Tom’s book). The ISSP, Fischer explains…
…involves survey research institutions in dozens of countries asking representative samples of their populations the same questions. A couple of times the ISSP has had its members ask questions designed to tap respondents’ pride in their countries… One set of questions asked respondents how much they agreed or disagreed with five statements such as “I would rather be a citizen of [my country] than of any other country in the world” and “Generally, speaking [my country] is a better country than most other countries.”
Smith put responses on a scale from 5 to 25, with 25 being the most patriotic. Here are the results from some of the affluent, western democracies (on a shortened scale of 5 to 20):
As Fischer says, “Americans were #1 in claiming to be #1.” Well, sort of. Americans were the most patriotic among this group. They turned out to be the second most patriotic of all countries. Venezuela beat us.
(In any case, what struck me wasn’t the fact that the U.S. is so patriotic, but that many other of these countries were very patriotic as well! The U.S. is certainly no outlier among this group. In fact, it looks like all of these countries fall between 14 and 18 on this 20-point scale. Statistically significant, perhaps, but how meaningful of a difference is it?)
Fischer goes on to ask what’s good and bad about pride and closes with the following concern for U.S. Americans:
We believe that we are #1 almost across the board, when in fact we are far below number one in many arenas – in health, K-12 education, working conditions, to mention just a few. Does our #1 pride then blind us to the possibility that we could learn a thing or two from other countries?