Prof. Leon Friedman Blogs at The Huffington Post on Problems Facing American Society

Leon Friedman, Joseph Kushner Distinguished Professor of Civil Liberties Law

 On December 13, Leon Friedman authored an article in The Huffington Post Politics Blog titled, “Where Our Nation Has Failed.” He discusses infant mortality rate, life expectancy, educational accomplishment and economic output as measures of America’s success.


According to the CIA World Factbook, our infant mortality rate (the death rate for infants one year or less) is 6.06 per 1,000 births. That puts the United States 48th in the world in that category. Forty-eight in the world! We are behind Cuba, Taiwan, Hungary, South Korea as well as all the major European countries in insuring that our infants survive their first year.

As for life expectancy of the entire population, we have the 33th best record. Our population’s life expectancy is 78.5 at birth. Countries such as Slovenia, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Cypus, Andorra, Chile and Cuba (again) have better rates than we do.

Measuring educational accomplishment, our students rank 15th in terms of reading literacy, among the 30 industrial countries who are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Our students are also 21st in scientific literacy and 25th out of 30 in mathematical literacy. We are also 21st out of 30 in terms of the percentage of our students who graduate from high school. The OECD report stated that: “Half of American students fell below the threshold of problem-solving skills considered necessary to meet emerging workforce demands.”

One area where we do much better is with respect to our economic output. According to statistics prepared by the World Bank, our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010 was $14.582 trillion, first in the world. China was second with $5.878 trillion. Germany had GDP of $3.309.

In the face of our enormous economic success, why are we so deficient in dealing with the health of our infants and the population as a whole or in educating our children, in comparison with other countries in the world?

Read the full article on huffingtonpost.com.


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