The Measure of America

The Measure of America: American Human Development Report, 2008-2009Yesterday, at a press conference in Washington D.C., the authors of The Measure of America: American Human Development Report 2008-2009 discussed the results of their groundbreaking study on the health and well-being of the United States.The report reveals some of the huge disparities in health, income, education, and living standards that exist in the United States.

You can find out much more about the report at the very impressive Web site, The site lists key findings from the report (some of which are below), a Well-O-Meter which allows you to approximate your own human development index by answering a series of question, interactive maps, and tables.

Finally, you can also download a podcast interview with the authors Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis.

Some key findings from the The Measure of America:

* The U.S. ranks #24 among the 30 most affluent countries in life expectancy – yet spends more on health care than any other nation.

* One American dies every 90 seconds from obesity-related health problems.

* Fourteen percent of the population – some 30 million Americans – lacks the literacy skills to perform simple, everyday tasks like understanding newspaper articles and instruction manuals.

* Educational expenditures vary significantly by state; New Jersey and New York spend around $14,000 per pupil, Utah spends less than $6,000 per pupil.

* African American students are three times more likely than whites to be placed in special education programs, and only half as likely to be placed in gifted programs.

* The top 1 percent of U.S. households possesses a full third of America’s wealth.

* Nearly one in five American children lives in poverty, with more than one in thirteen living in extreme poverty.

* In every racial/ethnic group, men earn more than their female counterparts.

* Over the course of a year, at least 1.35 million children are at some point homeless.

* The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s people – but 24 percent of the world’s prisoners.

* African Americans are imprisoned at six to eight times the rate of whites; the rate is much higher for African Americans who do not graduate high school; by age thirty-five, 60 percent of African American high school dropouts will have spent time in prison.

* In 98 countries, new mothers have 14 or more weeks of paid maternity leave. The U.S. has no federally mandated paid maternity leave.

* The U.S. ranks forty-second in global life expectancy and first among the world’s twenty-five richest countries in the percentage of children living in poverty.

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