Since I wrote Proud to be an American? five years ago, Americans have changed, as has our country.  In this piece, I will look at where the country ranks in the world, and look at some trends of interest.


In this section, a rank of #1 is a good thing.  So I use the rank of #1 if the U.S. has the lowest murder rate, and the rank of #1 if the U.S. has the lowest poverty rate.

An average of the statistics presented here doesn’t leave the U.S. as #1 in the world, but rather at about 80.  That is, across this selection of measures, there are about 80 countries that are “better” than the U.S.  Of course, different ways of measuring greatness might be used, and the relative score might change.

Measure Score
Adult literacy, as measured by the Education Index 8
Adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS 37
Carbon Dioxide Emissions Per Capita 172
Daily Dietary Energy Consumption Per Capita 168
Development Assistance to other Nations 18
Education Spending 86
Educational System 17
Employment Rate 18
Executions 157
Expected Years of Schooling 18
External Debt 190
Health and Life Expectancy 31
Income Equality 99
Mortality Rate in young people 28
Murder Rate 133
Poverty. 43
Reading, Math, and Science (averaged ranking) 7.5
Suicide Rate 135
Total Freshwater Withdrawal 161
Wealth Distribution 146
Wealth per Capita 3
Average 79.8


  • #37: Adult prevalence of HIV/AIDS, as a percentage of the population.  Adults in 36 countries are less likely to have HIV/AIDS.1.
  • #133: Murder Rate.  133 other countries have lower murder rates than we do, 86 have higher murder rates2.
  • #28: Mortality Rate in young people. Of the world’s 28 wealthiest countries, the U.S. ranks highest in mortality rates for young people aged 10 to 24. No country had higher mortality in the young.3.
  • #135: Suicide Rate.  One hundred thirty five countries have have lower suicide rates, 48 countries have higher suicide rates.4
  • #31: Health and Life Expectancy.  The U.S. ranks #31 in the world in life expectancy at birth; 152 countries average shorter life expectancies.5.
  • #43: Poverty. According to the CIA, 15% of Americans live in poverty.  43 countries have lower poverty rates than the U.S.6
  • #3: Wealth per Capita.  Many like to think of the U.S. as the richest country in the world, but the U.S. trails Luxembourg and Honk Kong in wealth per capita. 7
  • #99: Income Equality. The U.S. stands at #99 in income equality, according to the CIA8  That is, 99 countries have a smaller gap between the top incomes and the bottom incomes.
  • #146: Wealth Distribution. The U.S. ranks #146 in equality of wealth distribution.  That is, there are 145 countries where wealth is more evenly distributed between rich and poor than it is in the U.S.  Only four countries have a greater gap between rich and poor: Switzerland, Denmark, Zimbabwe, and Namibia9.


  • #17: Educational System. The United States places #17 in the developed world for education, according to one report10
  • #8: Adult literacy, as measured by the Education Index11
  • #25: Literacy. In literacy, the U.S. is tied for #2512.
  • # 18: Expected Years of Schooling.  Students in 17 countries expect to attend school more years than the average for the U.S.13
  • #17-#32: Reading, Math, and Science. The U.S. ranks #17 in reading,  #32 in math, and #23 in science14
  • #86: Education Spending. The U.S. ranks #86 in education spending as a percent of GDP, a steep decline from 54 just five years ago.15.


  • #18: Employment Rate. Seventeen countries have higher employment rates, up from 15 five years ago.16.
  • #190: External Debt. 189 out of 190 countries have less debt than the U.S. No country in the world owes more money to nonresidents than the U.S.  Total U.S. debt is about $21,171,000,000,00017
  • #18: Development Assistance to other Nations.  The U.S. is generous, but the European Union provides triple the development assistance that the U.S. does.  The U.S. is #18 in development assistance provided per capita.18  And much of our foreign aid goes to a single country — Israel — which gets $3.7 billion/year in bilateral military aid.19


  • #172: Carbon Dioxide Emissions Per Capita. In 2013, there were only 13 countries that produced more emissions per person than the U.S., and 171that produced fewer emissions per capita. 20.


  • #168: Daily Dietary Energy Consumption Per Capita. Of the 170 countries where the average person is able to eat enough to meet their daily caloric requirement, the U.S. stands only behind Austria in consuming more excess calories per capita. 21
  •  #161: Total Freshwater Withdrawal. 160 countries withdraw less water from the ground per capita.  Only 8 withdraw more per capita22, and only 8 withdraw more per capita.


  • #157: Executions.  105 countries have abolished capital punishment.  In 2017, the U.S. was the only country in the Americas to have any executions (23), and of 164 countries, had the 7th highest number of executions per country.23



Show 23 footnotes

  1. List of countries by HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate. Wikipedia.
  2. List of countries by intentional homicide rate. Wikipedia.
  3. Death Rates of Young People — Country Rankings 2011.
  4. List of countries by suicide rate. Wikipedia.
  5. List of countries by life expectancy. Wikipedia.
  6. List of countries by percentage of population living in poverty. Wikipedia.
  7. List of countries by distribution of wealth. Wikipedia.
  8. List of countries by income equality. Wikipedia.
  9. List of countries by distribution of wealth. Wikipedia.
  11.  Education Index. Wikipedia.
  12. List of countries by literacy rate. Wikipedia
  13.  Education Index. Wikipedia.
  14. World education rankings: which country does best at reading, maths and science. The Guardian December 7, 2010
  15. List of countries by spending on education. Wikipedia.
  16. List of countries by employment rate. Wikipedia.
  17. List of countries by external debt. Wikipedia.
  18. List of governments by development aid. Wikipedia.
  19. “U.S. Military Aid and the Israel/Palestine Conflict”
  20. List of countries by greenhouse gas emissions per capita. Wikipedia.
  21. List of countries by food energy intake. Wikipedia.
  22. List of countries by freshwater withdrawal. Wikipedia.
  23. Use of capital punishment by country. Wikipedia.; International: The Death Penalty: An International Perspective;