Saturday, December 10, 2022

Let’s Not Forget How Fortunate We Are

February 14, 2010  
Filed under Coffee Table

By Rod McLaughlin –

Sometimes it is hard to appreciate just how fortunate we are. The economy has still not recovered, unemployment is above 10 percent, environmental concerns continue to mount and we’re still trying to figure out how to resolve two wars while making sure every American is insured.

But despite all of this, I believe it is important for all of us to remember just how fortunate we are. How fortunate you may ask? We are among the most fortunate people in the history of this planet. To give you some perspective, let’s take a look at what is happening elsewhere in the world today.

Photo by Steve Evans

Photo by Steve Evans

Per Capita GDP

Let’s start with the relative economic strength of nations around the world. Per Capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is how much money a nation produces per person per year. Liechtenstein is the highest ranked nation in the world currently with a per capita GDP of $118,000, followed by Qatar with a per capita GDP of $111,000. The United States is ranked 10th with a per capita GDP of $47,500.

By contrast, Zimbabwe is the lowest raking nation (#229) with a per capita GDP of only $200. The Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi are ranked 228 and 227 with per capita GDPs of $300. Liberia is ranked 226 with a per capita GDP of $500. The bottom line is that we are wealthy beyond most people’s ability to dream.

Life Expectancy at Birth

Life expectancy at birth is something people don’t often think about as varying much from country to country but it can vary significantly. Life expectancy at birth can be an excellent indicator of the quality of life in a particular nation with a long life expectancy can reflect a high quality of life. Conversely, a short life expectancy can reflect the dismal conditions within a given country.

The nations with the longest life expectancy at birth in the world are Macau (84.36 years), Andorra (82.51 years), Japan (82.12 years), and Singapore (81.98 years). The United States is ranked 50th (78.11 years).

The lowest life expectancy at birth is in Swaziland (31.99 years). Can you imagine a country where every child born is expected to be dead before the age of 32? It’s incomprehensible. Other nations at the bottom of the list include Angola (38.20 years), Zambia (38.63 years), and Lesotho (40.38 years).

Unemployment Rate

There has been a lot of talk about the unemployment rate here in the United States as it has steadily climbed to over 10 percent. This is definitely bad news and represents challenging times for us all. But how bad is it exactly? In the past some countries with smaller economies have managed to have unemployment rates at or near zero. These countries included Andorra, Monaco and Qatar. A significant number of other countries have managed to keep their unemployment rate under 2 percent. Some of these nations include Azerbaijan, Thailand, Belarus, Cuba and Iceland. But the global economic crisis has made estimating many of these global statistics difficult at best, since these figures are now changing constantly.

But it’s safe to say that those nations at the bottom of the list with the highest unemployment rates have not been able to improve their condition in recent months. The nation with the highest unemployment rate is Nauru (90%). Is that even possible? Yes, 9 out of 10 people are unemployed in Nauru. Nauru is closely followed by Liberia (85%), Zimbabwe (80%), Burkina Faso (77%) and Turkmenistan (60%).

Infant Mortality

Definitely the saddest statistic of all is infant mortality. Infant mortality is the number of infants that die per 1,000 live births. Infant mortality is lowest in Singapore with just 2.31 per 1,000. Surprisingly the US is ranked all the way down at 180th with 6.26 per 1,000. That should be an unacceptable level for any nation, but many nations’ infant mortality rates are far worse.

The nation with the highest infant mortality rate is Angola with a rate of 180.21 per 1,000. That means nearly one out of every five babies born dies. One out of five compared to Singapore’s rate of one out of every 433. Other countries topping the list are Sierra Leone (154.43), Afghanistan (151.95) and Liberia (138.24).

This information is not given lightly and is not intended to saddle you with guilt. But it is intended to give you some perspective. We are all very, very fortunate. Every time I travel to a developing nation, these differences are striking. When I return home, I invariably appreciate the life we have but this perspective can fade with time. So let’s all remember that our lives are rich. Rich in wealth, rich in health, rich in freedom, and rich in opportunity. Life is good. Please don’t forget that.

Source: CIA.gov

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