We’re Living the Dream; We Just Don’t Realize It
We’ve finally emerged from the season in which Americans were asked by the pollsters and politicians: “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” But sometimes it’s important to contemplate the question of progress from a longer view: How are we doing on the scale of a generation?
To answer that question, take this brief quiz.
Over the past two decades, what have the U.S. trends been for the following important measures of social health: high school dropout rates, college enrollment, juvenile crime, drunken driving, traffic deaths, infant mortality, life expectancy, per capita gasoline consumption, workplace injuries, air pollution, divorce, male-female wage equality, charitable giving, voter turnout, per capita GDP and teen pregnancy?
The answer for all of them is the same: The trend is positive. Almost all those varied metrics of social wellness have improved by more than 20% over the past two decades. And that’s not counting the myriad small wonders of modern medicine that have improved our quality of life as well as our longevity: the anti-depressants and insulin pumps and quadruple bypasses.
Americans enjoy longer, healthier lives in more stable families and communities than we did 20 years ago. But other than the crime trends, these facts are rarely reported or shared via word-of-mouth channels.