U.S. doesn't do too well in recent survey


One thing I have done a lot of during this pandemic – besides eat, obviously – is read.
I am always reading at least one book. I also read a couple of online magazines faithfully. I also daily read news from the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and even check out Forbes.

I sometimes read some interesting things, like a piece that was recently on the Forbes site. It was about the 35 best and worst places in the world to raise a family.

Now, any piece like this is going to look at certain data to reach a conclusion, and we can all argue over what the best data is to reach a certain conclusion. That is noted before I even start to read a piece like this.

But this one was pretty interesting, and the authors – after considering 30 statistics from international sources – landed on six. Those six were safety, happiness, cost, health, education and time.

Of the 35 countries on the list, Iceland came in at No. 1. Why is it the best place to raise a family? Well, it is the safest country in the world, and it ranks high when it comes to cost. It is also a world leader in human rights.

Not bad, Iceland.

The rest of the Top 5 includes Norway, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg.

At the bottom of the list is our neighbor to the south, Mexico. Poor Mexico, a country that is the most dangerous in the world, worst when it comes to health and education, and rates very low on the happiness scale.

In Mexico’s defense, I think they have the best food in the world.

I am sure you are wondering where the U.S. ranked. I was too and as I eyed the list, I was surprised how low I had to go to find our country. In fact, it was just above Mexico at No. 34.

Yes, 34.

OK, sure, this is just one study based on certain data, but 34? It is not a good showing. But when you look at the reasons why, it does ring true to a certain extent.

We have more homicides than any country other than Mexico. Our country also scores very low when it comes to human rights. That makes me pretty sad, but all we have to do is read the headlines.

Cost is also a big problem, with the U.S. placing last. One big thing that hurts us in that area is the cost of childcare. Anyone with kids knows this to be true. I remember when my kids got old enough to go to school and leave childcare. It was like getting the biggest raise ever. 

In the U.S., parents with an average household income pay nearly 32 percent of their income on childcare. In Scandinavian countries, the same household pays 4 percent to 10 percent. Huge difference.

Healthcare is also a problem. Did you know that American mothers are twice as likely to die in childbirth than mothers in Canada?

Time? We ranked poorly there too. We work longer hours with less vacation time. And no other country in the study gave zero paid maternity leave or zero paid vacation time.

Finally, we ranked low on the happiness scale. Mental illness rates here are high, as are suicide rates.

This one study does not paint a pretty picture but take it any way you want. I see a country that struggles daily and needs a lot of work. We also need better leaders with a goal of helping and lifting all Americans.

Ultimately, I do have hope. We are Americans, after all.

Brad Jennings is Editor of The Ogle County Life.

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