11/17 Why is Quality of Life Falling in the US?
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The Social Progress Index offers a rich framework for measuring the multiple dimensions of social progress, benchmarking success, and catalyzing greater human well-being. Creating a society with opportunity for all citizens remains an elusive goal that many nations have failed to achieve. Despite its immense wealth, military power and cultural influence, the United States ranks 28th, having slipped from 19th in 2011. The newest data—released in early September—also find that out of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011. And the declines in Brazil and Hungary were smaller than America’s.
New York Times columnist and author Nicholas Kristof joined a multidisciplinary panel of Rutgers experts from the Bloustein School, the School of Social Work, and the School of Communication and Information to discuss how and why the United States is declining on this measure of well-being. The index, inspired by the research of Nobel-winning economists, collects 50 metrics of well-being — nutrition, safety, freedom, the environment, health, education, and more — to measure quality of life. These experts examined the metrics where the U.S. scored lowest, the structural problems that have led to this point, and how the choices our communities and elected officials make can reverse this decline in the years ahead.