America’s 3rd World Future: What do facts & figures say? idea of America as a Third World nation is a chilling prospect. Arianna Huffington uses the idea in her new book as a warning of a possible future unless corrective action is taken, as I explained yesterday.

We’re not a Third World nation, of course, but trends could be moving in that direction.  Consider, for example, the Human Development Index or HDI. This is a statistic compiled by the United Nations to rank countries around the world on life expectancy at birth, adult literacy and school enrollments, and GDP per capita. Considering these factors, where do you think the U.S. ranks?  #1?  #2?

America ranks #13 out of 182 countries, based on 2007 data, the latest available.  We’re near the top of the pile, but a dozen countries rank higher. Norway, Australia, Iceland, and Canada claim the first four spots.

But here’s the startling trend: Just four years before, in 2003, the U.S. ranked #7.  We’ve slid down the hill in a few short years.

Even our #13 rank depends primarily on the economy. In 2007, our GDP per capita put us in 9th place. But we ranked only #24 in life expectancy, and only #21 in school enrollments. Given the current state of our economy, I would expect that our HDI composite rank is much lower than #13 now.

Are you surprised at these figures and trends?  Are we in danger of becoming a Third World nation?

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