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That is the title of this this Nicholas Kristof op ed in today's New York Times

It examines the result of the Social Progress Index, which is

a brainchild of Michael E. Porter, the eminent Harvard business professor who earlier helped develop the Global Competitiveness Report. Porter is a Republican whose work, until now, has focused on economic metrics.
  Porter told Kristof
that he became increasingly aware that social factors support economic growth: tax policy and regulations affect economic prospects, but so do schooling, health and a society’s inclusiveness.
Porter and his team spent two years examining lots of data
reflecting suicide, property rights, school attendance, attitudes toward immigrants and minorities, opportunity for women, religious freedom, nutrition, electrification and much more.
For some of the results please continue beneath the fold.

The index is based on three distinct themes: Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity.  Because of how each theme is calculated, using four dimensions,

Social Progress Index scores are realistic benchmarks rather than abstract measures. The scaling allows us to track absolute, not just relative, country performance.
  The absolute measures are on a scale of 0-100.

The Index offers some overall findings:

Social progress is distinct from economic development, though correlated with it.

Some countries with low GDP per capita are able to achieve surprising levels of social progress, while some relatively prosperous nations register levels of social progress lower than less wealthy countries. Explicitly distinguishing social progress from economic development allows us to gain deeper insight into each one.  

Some aspects of social progress are more closely related to the level of economic development than others.  

There is no single measure that captures all aspects of social progress.

Each dimension is distinct from the others, and each component within each dimension is also distinct.

Countries have relative strengths and weaknesses in social progress, both across dimensions and across components within dimensions. These strengths and weaknesses set the social progress agenda for each country.

And the results?

The top three nations are ....   wait for it .....

New Zealand

The remainder of the top ten, in order:


Wait, we'ere not even in the top ten?

Actually, overall we are 16th, because, as Kristof notes,

We underperform because our economic and military strengths don’t translate into well-being for the average citizen.
But then, regular readers of Daily Kos already knew that, didn't we?

Some details from Kristof, omitting the embedded hot link:  

the United States excels in access to advanced education but ranks 70th in health, 69th in ecosystem sustainability, 39th in basic education, 34th in access to water and sanitation and 31st in personal safety. Even in access to cellphones and the Internet, the United States ranks a disappointing 23rd, partly because one American in five lacks Internet access.
Trust me, on the last point, I see that among some of the students I teach in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program.

Allow me one more quote, absent the embedded link, from Kristof:

Many who back proposed Republican cuts in Medicaid, food stamps and public services believe that such trims would boost America’s competitiveness. Looking at this report, it seems that the opposite is true.
But then, we knew that as well, didn't we?

Read the Kristof.

Follow the links.

Then you will among other things understand why the Ryan budget is disastrous for the American people, and why any attempts at the so-called "Grand Bargina" would have been devastating to the well-being of the American people.

Oh wait.  We knew that as well, didn't we?


Originally posted to teacherken on Thu Apr 03, 2014 at 03:32 AM PDT.

Also republished by More and Better Democracies.

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