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America in denial: We're number 29 (of 30)

Exhibit A, in that regard: American conservatives just love to yammer on about the family, as if they invented it. But the US record on family issues is no better than its record on health care. The family indicators are as follows, along with the US rank: teenage pregnancy births per 1,000 women aged 15-19 (28 out of 28); paid maternity leave entitlement as a percentage of annual wage (29/29); public spending on family benefits in cash, services and tax measures (26/29); child poverty rate (25/26); family-time index (22/27); percentage of young people (0-14) living with both parents (21/23); percentage of young adolescents living with both parents (26/26); and divorce rate (30). All together, the US comes in dead last in the combined index of family indicators.

These low rankings are directly related to conservative practices and social policies. Divorce rates and teen pregnancy rates are both higher in “red states”, a result of patterns of family formation according to law professors Naomi Cahn and June Carbone in their book Red Families v. Blue Families: Legal Polarisation and the Creation of Culture. Even aside from culture, practices like “abstinence only” sex education and restrictive access to birth control both make for higher teen pregnancy rates. In the US, conservative politicians even opposed unpaid maternity leave - no wonder the US is the only advanced industrial nation with zero weeks of paid maternity leave - and very low rates of any public spending in the way of family support. In short, conservatives really are uniquely responsible for the United States’ poor showing in the family category - the exact opposite of what they tend to believe.

When it comes to freedom and democracy, however, conservatives are not alone in mistakenly thinking that the US leads the world, when it’s actually dragging up the rear among the advanced industrial nations. The US does score in the mid-range on a couple of indicators, but fails abysmally on others: voter turnout for parliamentary elections (30); female parliamentarians (24); gender gap [economic, political, etc.] (13 -tied); corruption perceptions index (18); press freedom index (26/29); collective bargaining coverage (24/25); prisoners per capita (29/29); support for human rights [international agreements signed] (30). For the category as a whole, the US ranks 28th out of 30.

The story is not much different for three other categories: The US scores last in public order and safety (30th) and in generosity (24/24), and 27th out of 30 in income and leisure.

(Source: azspot)