US Behind Europe in Employment for Disadvantaged, Income Mobility, Health, and Crime

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August 1, 2006

US Behind Europe in Employment for Disadvantaged, Income Mobility, Health, and Crime 

For Immediate Release: August 1, 2006

Contact: Lynn Erskine, 202-293-5380 x115

Washington, DC: The United States is performing poorly in two areas typically associated with American economic superiority - employment rates for disadvantaged populations and income mobility - according to a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
 
"Is the U.S. a Good Model for Reducing Social Exclusion in Europe?,"  by economist John Schmitt and researcher Ben Zipperer, found that the United States fares worse than Europe on a range of social and economic indicators, including most measures of poverty, health, education and crime. 

The study reviewed data on economic and social measures to assess how well the U.S. has leveraged its vaunted dynamism to improve American living standards. It found that the U.S. is the most unequal of the major OECD countries, with a higher Gini coefficient, lower relative incomes among poor households and a bigger gap between rich and poor. The report notes that:

  • The U.S. has a smaller share of low-income workers that make it to higher income levels than any other OECD country. This contradicts the widespread belief that American workers have a much greater chance of getting ahead than do European workers.
     
  • The U.S. spends more than any other OECD country on health care, yet has worse health outcomes (e.g., life expectancy, infant mortality, obesity). Also, the U.S. is the only developed country in the world that does not provide universal health-care.
     
  • The U.S. has the highest murder rate of any advanced country analyzed in the report and a prison-population rate 5 to 10 times higher than Western Europe.
     
  • The U.S. has lower adult employment rates than many advanced welfare states, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

"The U.S. economic and social model generates high levels of income inequality, high poverty rates, and poor and unequal educational outcomes. It's not a good answer to Europe's problems," said Schmitt.

What is "social exclusion"?  Social exclusion occurs when people suffer from a combination of problems such as low income, poor health, high crime, unemployment and family upheaval. It is a common term in European debates on social policy.

To read the report, click here.


The Center for Economic and Policy Research is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that promotes democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues affecting people's lives. CEPR's Advisory Board of Economists includes Nobel Laureate economists Robert Solow and Joseph Stiglitz; Richard Freeman, Professor of Economics at Harvard University; and Eileen Appelbaum, Professor and Director of the Center for Women and Work at Rutgers University.