13 September 2012

Social justice in the OECD

Unfortunately, when nations are compared, the yardstick of comparison is usually GDP, a crude measure of a people's well-being even by economic standards. I am, therefore, always seeking rankings by more meaningful measures. My attention was recently caught by a publication entitled Social Justice in the OECD—How Do the Member States Compare? issued by the Bertelsmann Stiftung Foundation. The report applies six criteria—poverty prevention, access to education, labour market inclusion, social cohesion and non-discrimination, health and intergenerational justice—to determine the relative standards of social justice for the 31 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

As might be expected, the Scandinavian countries topped the combined index with Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland ranking one to five. According to the report, "The north European states comprise a league of their own."

The U.S. did poorly as also might be expected, ranking 27th overall with its "alarming poverty levels." Only three countries—Turkey, Mexico and Chile—had greater income disparities.

Canada did rather well, "top performer among the non-European OECD states" with "strong results in the areas of education, labor market justice and social cohesion." We ranked ninth overall. So, a decent performance for us, but we can do better. This is a competition in which we should definitely shoot for number one.

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