**How much do you know about the state of the nation?**

We're constantly exposed to one version or another of the idea of American exceptionalism. The politicians and advertisers remind us over and over again that the U.S. is number one, the richest country in the world, the most powerful, the shining “city on a hill” prophesied by our Puritan founders.

If you’re curious to see how well your knowledge about how the U.S. is doing matches what the statistics say, and if the U.S. still merits that number one spot, take this 20-item quiz.

1. Among the 23 richest countries (measured by GDP per person), where does the U.S. rank in** **

terms of **life expectancy** (1 = highest life expectancy, 23 = lowest)? _____

** **2.** **Among the 23 richest countries, where does the U.S. rank in terms **of income**

**inequality** (1 = lowest ratio between top and bottom 20%; 23 = highest ratio)? ____

3. Among the 21 richest countries for which data are available, where does the

U.S. rank on a **health-and-social-problems** scale that combines measures of

trust, mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, infant mortality, life expectancy,

obesity, children’s educational performance, teenage births, homicides, rates of

imprisonment, and social mobility (1 = fewest problems, 21 = most problems)? _____

4. Among the 22 richest countries for which data are available, where does the U.S.

Rank on the UNICEF index of **child wellbeing**, a combination of 40 measures of

children’s health and wellbeing (1 = healthiest for children, 22 = least healthy)? _____

5. Of the 21 richest countries for which data are available, where does the U.S.

rank in terms of the percent of GDP spent on **foreign aid** (1 = highest, 21 =lowest)? _____

6. Of the 12 rich countries for which data are available, where does the U.S. rank

In terms of the percent of the population who have been **mentally ill** in

The past 12 months (1 = lowest percentage, 12 = highest percentage)? ____

7. Of 22 rich countries for which data are available, where does the U.S. rank in

terms of the United Nations index **of illegal drug use** (1 = least use, 22 = most use)? _____

8. Among the 23 richest countries, where does the U.S. rank in terms of **infant deaths**

per 1000 live births (1 = lowest infant death rate, 23 = highest infant death rate)? _____

9. Among the 21 rich countries for which data are available, where does the U.S. rank

In terms of the percent of people who are **obese**—body mass index over 30—

(1 = lowest percentage of obese citizens, 21 = highest percentage of obesity)? _____

10. Among the 19 rich countries for which data are available, where does the U.S.

rank in terms of the percentage of **children who are overweight** (1 = lowest

percentage of overweight children, 19 = highest percentage of overweight children)? _____

11. Among 22 rich countries for which data are available, how do U.S. 15-year-olds

Rank on an international test of **math and reading skills** (1 = highest, 22 = lowest)? _____

12. Among 21 rich countries for which data are available, where does the U.S. rank

In terms of the number of **births among teens** aged 15-19 (1 = lowest teen birth

rate, 21 = highest teen birth rate)? _____

13. Among the 23 richest countries, where does the U.S. rank in terms of **homicides**

per million people (1 = lowest homicide rate, 23 = highest)? _____

14. Among the 22 rich countries for which statistics are available, where does the U.S.

Rank in terms of the number of **people in prison** per 100,000 citizens

(1 = lowest rate of imprisonment, 22 = highest)? _____

15. Among the 11 rich countries for which data is available, where does the U.S. rank in

terms of **social mobility**, measured by how different a son’s income at 30 is from his

father’s income when the son was born (1 = high mobility, 11 =low mobility)? _____

16. Among 21 rich countries for which data are available, where does the U.S. rate

In terms of the percentage of **children living with a single parent** (1 = lowest

percentage, 21 = highest percentage)? _____

17. Among the 22 richest nations for which statistics are available, where does the

U.S. rank in terms of the **number of patents** issued per 1,000,000 citizens

(1 = highest number of patents per capita, 22 = lowest number per capita)? _____

18. Among the 11 rich nations for which statistics are available, where does the U.S.

rank in terms of the proportion of **waste that gets recycled** (1 = highest proportion

of waste recycled, 11 = lowest proportion of waste recycled)? _____

19.** ** Among the 23 richest countries, where does the U.S. rank in terms of **carbon**

**dioxide emissions** per person (1 = lowest per capita CO2, 23 = highest per capita)? _____

20. Among the 25 richest countries, where does the U.S. rank in terms of the percentage

of **children living in relative poverty**--defined as below a country’s median income—

(1 = lowest percentage of children in relative poverty, 25 = highest percentage)? _____

You'll find the correct answers below.

These statistics (except for # 20, which come from UNICEF) are taken from the book

*The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger, *by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson. They lay out the case for the idea that, among rich, developed countries, it's not the amount of wealth but the degree of equality or inequality that makes the difference between a physically and mentally healthy, happy, well functioning and secure society and the opposite. They find that, among rich countries, those with high levels of income equality, such as the Scandinavian countries and Japan, do well on these measures of individual and social well being, while those with high levels of inequality, such as the U.S. and the U.K., do poorly. They think there is a cause-and-effect relationship between inequality and social problems, and that the most direct way to address this wide range of issues is to take steps to return the U.S. to a more equitable society.

**Correct answers:**

1. 20/23 (4^{th} lowest in life expectancy)

2. 22/23 (2^{nd} highest in income inequality)

3. 21/21 (highest level of health and social problems)

4. 19/22 (4^{th} lowest on child wellbeing)

5. 20/21 (2^{nd} lowest percent spent on foreign aid)

6. 12/12 (highest prevalence of mental illness)

7. 19/22 (4^{th} highest in illegal drug use)

8. 23/23 (highest infant death rate)

9. 21/21 (highest level of adult obesity)

10. 19/19 (highest percentage of overweight children)

11. 17/22 (6^{th} lowest math and reading skills at age 15)

12. 21/21 (highest teen birth rate)

13. 23/23 (highest homicide rate)

14. 22/22 (highest imprisonment rate)

15. 11/11 (lowest social mobility)

16. 20/21 (In a three-way tie for the highest level of children in single-parent homes)

17. 19/22 (4^{th} lowest number of patents per 1,000,000 population)

18. 9/11 (3^{rd} lowest proportion of waste recycled)

19. 22/23 (2^{nd} highest per capita CO2 emissions)

20. 25/25 (highest percentage of children in relative poverty)