Where the US Stands

Social Wealth Economic Indicators show

Social Wealth Economic Indicators show where the U.S. Stands, and need to catch up, to other developed nations in two domains of indicators: Human Capacity Indicators and Care Investment Indicators. Several key findings from the SWEI report include:

Human Capacity

Human Capacity

  • The U.S. has a child poverty rate that is nearly twice the OECD average.
  • The U.S. ranks 30th in maternal mortality rates.
  • Infant mortality in the U.S. is higher than all major developed nations.
  • The U.S. has lower enrollment rates for young children in early childhood education programs than other developed nations.
  • The U.S. has a higher gender gap in earnings than the OECD average (at 22%, compared to the 17.3% OECD avg.)
  • In the U.S., according to time use surveys, men spend more time on care work than men in other developed nations. Women spend less time on household work than women in other developed nations.
  • In the U.S., childcare work is one of the lowest paid occupations.
  • The teen birth rate in the U.S. is higher than all other developed nations, at approximately 44 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19. Switzerland has the lowest teen birth rate, at 4 births per 1,000 teens. The Nordic nations have 5-10 births per 1,000 teens.
  • The U.S. is one of only 12 countries running an ecological deficit larger than 4 global hectares per capita, while many other developed nations (and developing nations in Latin American and elsewhere) are 
running ecological reserves.

Care Investment

Care Investment

  • The U.S. is the only developed nation with no national funding for paid parental leave.
  • The U.S. invests less than half as much in family benefits as other OECD nations, investing around 1% of GDP in family spending, as compared to the OECD average of 2.6%.
  • The U.S. invests approximately one third as much on environmental protection as the EU average.
  • Among major developed nations, the U.S. invests the least in early childhood care and education.
  • Social Wealth Economic Indicators show what is needed to for the US to catch up in care investment.
  • In most developed nations, long-term care (LTC) work is predominately publicly funded. The Nordic countries, along with the Netherlands, where these gender norms have been replaced by more flexible gender roles where men do more of the care work, are the highest public spenders at 1.5% of GDP or higher. In the US, public spending on LTC is just above 0.5% of GDP.
  • Although direct care is the fastest growing job sector in the country, it is also one of the lowest-paid. The population aged 65+ is projected to grow 90% by 2030, opening thousands of jobs in the care work sector. However, currently care workers are paid about $10 an hour. That is $7 per hour LESS than the average wage earner in the country. If we want to create living wage jobs, we have to revalue care and our investments in it.

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