Thirty-five years ago, babies born in the U.S. had an infant mortality rate equal to Germany. Today, American babies die at twice the rate of those in Germany.
Thirty-five years ago, the U.S. ranked 13th in life expectancy for girls among the 34 recognized industrial societies. Today we are ranked 29th out of those same 34 countries.
We have the highest teenage birth rate among the industrialized world.
One out of every four children in this country lives with a single parent, the highest rate by far in the industrialized world.
Our incarceration rate is triple what it was four decades ago, with an incarceration rate five times that of other wealthy democracies.
Economists from the University of Chicago, MIT and the University of Southern California conducted research to find out why our children die at a rate exponentially higher than European kids. Their conclusion? Staggering rates of income disparity, all stemming directly from the 1980's, the Era of Ronald Reagan and the beginning of the resurgence of the conservative movement.
"On nearly all indicators of mortality, survival and life expectancy, the United States ranks at or near the bottom among high-income countries," says a report on the nation's health by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.
What's most shocking about these statistics is not how unhealthy they show Americans to be, compared with citizens of countries that spend much less on health care and have much less sophisticated medical technology. What is most perplexing is how stunningly fast the United States has lost ground.
The statistics above are taken from this article by Eduardo Porter in today's New York Times. As Porter states, "Pick almost any measure of social health and cohesion over the last four decades or so, and you will find that the United States took a wrong turn along the way." But as his analysis shows, it wasn't just lower wages caused by globalization and technological advancement that led to this dismal state of affairs (although those certainly played a part), but the unique failure of our U.S. government to respond to these developments: