Is This The End of the American Century?

This site features updates, analysis, discussion and comments related to the theme of my book published by Rowman & Littlefield in 2008 (hardbound) and 2009 (paperbound).

The Book

The End of the American Century documents the interrelated dimensions of American social, economic, political and international decline, marking the end of a period of economic affluence and world dominance that began with World War II. The war on terror and the Iraq War exacerbated American domestic weakness and malaise, and its image and stature in the world community. Dynamic economic and political powers like China and the European Union are steadily challenging and eroding US global influence. This global shift will require substantial adjustments for U.S. citizens and leaders alike.

Monday, October 20, 2008

U.S. Ranks Low on Health Care

Chapter 3 of The End of the American Century, titled "Torn Social Fabric," focuses especially on the relatively poor levels of health care in the U.S., and how badly it fares in comparison to other wealthy countries. As I point out there, this is surprising in many ways "because the United States indeed does have available the best medical care in the world and spends more on health care than any other country." But "because there are so many poor people in the United States and so many people without access to health care, the average level of health and medical care in the United States is among the worst in the developed world" (bold added). In the late 1990s, the World Health Organization ranked the U.S. at 37th in the world in the overall performance of the health system. This was the lowest ranking of any country in the OECD.

New data reported in the New York Times confirms these disturbing trends. The United States now ranks 29th in the world on infant mortality rates which, as the Times points out, is "one of the most important indicators of the health of a nation and the quality of its medical system." The U.S. ranking has declined sharply since 1960, when its ranking was 12th in the world.

This international gap has widened even though the U.S. spends far more on health care than most other wealthy countries, on both a per capita basis and as a percentage of GDP. In 2006, according to the Times, "Americans spent $6714 per capita on health--more than twice the average of other industrialized countries."

Grace Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, a conservative research organization, told the Times "infant mortality and our comparison with the rest of the world continue to be an embarrassment to the United States."

The dismal state of health care in the U.S. reflects broader trends of social and economic decline in the U.S.--compared both to our own past and to other countries in the world. It is the major theme of The End of the American Century: that the U.S. has lost ground as other countries have gained; and that we can no longer claim special privilege as the richest, or the most successful, or the most powerful--on almost any dimension.

The poor state of health care, and education, and infrastructure in the U.S. result from inadequate attention and resources to these areas of our domestic health. They pose the second horn of the U.S. dilemma: our economy is collapsing at the very time when we most need resources to rebuild the country at home, and reestablish our reputation abroad.

(See also my 9/23/09 post "U.S. Health Care Compares Badly to Others")

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1 comment:

Alex said...

I hope the soon to be presidents have something up their sleeve for an average american for healthcare