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Standard of living in the United States

The standard of living in the United States is one of the highest in the world by almost any measure. On measures such as the UN Human Development Index the United States is always in the top ten. However, the United States is consistently ranked lower than Scandinavia, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

The United States measures better in certain categories than others. Americans are some of the wealthiest people in the world, with a very high GDP per capita. Americans are top in the world for most material possessions. The number of televisions, vehicles, and other such products per person are considerably higher than in any other country. For instance the United States has some 754 televisions for every thousand people, no other major state is even above 700, with Japan being closest at 680/1000.

The United States also consistently has one the lowest unemployment rates in the world, usually only beaten by Japan.

While the United States' mean wealth is the highest of any major country, its median wealth is considerably lower. Most of the extra money in the United States is the result of a much wealthier top section of the population. If the top five percent of the population is not included the average Canadian would be wealthier than the average American. The United States also has more people below the poverty line than 26 other countries. The wealthiest ten percent of Americans are 15 times richer than the bottom ten percent. In Japan, for instance, the ration is only 4.2:1. This imbalance is a product of the United States' long policy of having a more free market economy, while other countries are more ready to sacrifice net wealth in favour of equality.

While the United States is known for spending less on social welfare programs in some areas it does excel. The American education system is one of the best in the world. While grade schools are behind some other nations, the American college and university system is both one of the most respected and one of the most accessible in the world. In terms of population with education beyond high school the United States is second only to Canada, and well ahead of most of Europe.

The American health care system is also one of the best in the world, but is one of the worst amongst developed countries. Life expectancy and infant mortality are both poor in the United States, relative to other nations of its wealth. At the same time the United States spends vastly more per person on health care each year.

While the United States does suffer from severe problems of racial inequality it is one of the world's top nations in terms of equality of the sexes. Women have a high participation rate in the labour force and higher salaries compared to men than in most other countries. The United States also has only minimal religious discrimination.

It is also important to note the diversity of the United States, both between and within the several States, there are many differences between urban, rural, and suburban standards of living as well as those enjoyed by various subcultures.

Last updated: 01-09-2005 04:24:23