US is becoming a ‘developing country’ on global rankings that measure democracy, inequality

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Kathleen Frydl in The Conversation: The United States may regard itself as a “leader of the free world,” but an index of development released in July 2022 places the country much farther down the list.

In its global rankings, the United Nations Office of Sustainable Development dropped the U.S. to 41st worldwide, down from its previous ranking of 32nd. Under this methodology – an expansive model of 17 categories, or “goals,” many of them focused on the environment and equity – the U.S. ranks between Cuba and Bulgaria. Both are widely regarded as developing countries.

The U.S. is also now considered a “flawed democracy,” according to The Economist’s democracy index. As a political historian who studies U.S. institutional development, I recognize these dismal ratings as the inevitable result of two problems. Racism has cheated many Americans out of the health care, education, economic security and environment they deserve. At the same time, as threats to democracy become more serious, a devotion to “American exceptionalism” keeps the country from candid appraisals and course corrections.

‘The other America’

The Office of Sustainable Development’s rankings differ from more traditional development measures in that they are more focused on the experiences of ordinary people, including their ability to enjoy clean air and water, than the creation of wealth. So while the gigantic size of the American economy counts in its scoring, so too does unequal access to the wealth it produces. When judged by accepted measures like the Gini coefficient, income inequality in the U.S. has risen markedly over the past 30 years. By the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s measurement, the U.S. has the biggest wealth gap among G-7 nations…

Declining democracy

The Economist’s democracy index now groups the U.S. among “flawed democracies,” with an overall score that ranks between Estonia and Chile. It falls short of being a top-rated “full democracy” in large part because of a fractured political culture. This growing divide is most apparent in the divergent paths between “red” and “blue” states. Although the analysts from The Economist applaud the peaceful transfer of power in the face of an insurrection intended to disrupt it, their report laments that, according to a January 2022 poll, “only 55% of Americans believe that Mr. Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud.” Read the whole article here.

FEATURED IMAGE:

A ‘humorous’ diplomatic map (1904). Source: Social media

Honorary contributors to DesPardes: Adil Khan, Ajaz Ahmed, Ammar Jafri, Anwar Abbas, Arif Mirza, Aziz Ahmed, Bawar Tawfik, Dr. Razzak Ladha, Dr. Syed M. Ali, G. R. Baloch, Hasham Saddique, Jamil Usman, Jawed Ahmed, Ishaq Saqi, Khalid Sharif, Majid Ahmed, Masroor Ali, Md. Ahmed, Md. Najibullah, Mustafa Jivanjee, Nusrat Jamshed, Shahbaz Ali, Shahid Hamza, Shahid Nayeem, Syed Hamza Gilani, Mushtaq Siddiqui, Syed Hasan Javed, Syed M. Ali, Tahir Sohail

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