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Five Charts That Show How the U.S. Has Failed To Tackle Its Inequality Gap

Five Charts That Show How the U.S. Has Failed To Tackle Its Inequality Gap
Thu, 6/7/2018 - by Sam Morris and Ed Pilkington
This article originally appeared on The Guardian

A new United Nations poverty report has castigated the U.S. over its extreme poverty levels and inequality. It condemns Trump's “systematic attack on America’s welfare program” and warns that inequality will only increase under his watch.

These five charts, comparing the U.S. to Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K., show how America has become an outlier among developed nations for all the wrong reasons.

A High Level of Income Inequality

The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty, Philip Alston, warns in his final report on the U.S. that Trump-era policies – including the Republican tax cuts passed in December and proposed reforms to the food stamp program – have already exacerbated inequality.

However it is measured, American inequality is unique. In its report, the UN uses the Gini coefficient, which represents inequality with a single number. A score of zero means everyone has the same income and there is perfect equality. A score of one means a single person possesses all the income.

Poor Turnout at Elections

The U.S. has one of the lowest voting turnout rates. In the 2016 elections, only 55.7% of the voting-age population cast ballots, compared with 78.86% in Australia. The US also has a very low rate of citizens who are registered to vote – 64% of the voting-age population compared with 99% in Japan.

Incarceration Rate is the Highest in the World

There are currently about 2.2 million people behind bars in the US, and it has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. The Trump administration is conflicted on this issue – the president recently welcomed Kim Kardashian West to the White House to discuss prison reform, yet the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is toughening up sentencing policy in a way that is likely to further bloat the incarcerated population.

A Crisis of Infant Mortality

As the UN special rapporteur on poverty points out, the country’s infant mortality rate of 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births is almost 50% higher than the OECD average of 3.9 deaths.

Life Expectancy is Dropping

Life expectancy has dropped in the U.S. for two years in a row, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. American life expectancy is now almost six years shorter than Japan’s.

The fall in life expectancy is not occurring evenly across society. The rich are living longer, while the poor and middle class are seeing their life expectancy taper off and even fall.


Originally published by The Guardian

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