US Leader in Social Injustice

A new international report serves as an indictment of policies that make the United States a leader in social injustice, including alarming poverty and inequality in the workplace.

The U.S. ranks 27th in terms of social justice among the 35 member nations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, (OECD), which  promotes policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

The OECD report, entitled Social Justice in the OECD – How Do the Member States Compare? Sustainable Governance Indicators 2011, says that America, with its alarming poverty levels, lands near the bottom of the weighted social justice index, ranking only slightly better than its neighbor Mexico (30) and new OECD member Chile (29).

The OECD’s analysis places much of the blame for the U.S.’ dismal social justice ranking on inequality in the workplace – the US ranks16th in labor market inclusion (see list below) among the OECD’s 35 member countries, behind Canada (8) and Mexico (10).

The OECD says exclusion from the labor market substantially limits individual opportunities for self-realization, contributes to an increase in the risk of poverty, and can even lead to serious health stresses: “So long as gainful employment remains the primary means by which not only income, but also status, self-respect and social inclusion are distributed in developed societies, inclusion in the labor market must be a high priority for a just society” (Merkel/Giebler 2009: 198).

To calculate labor inclusiveness, the OECD analyzed employment and unemployment rates for 55- to 65-year-old workers, foreign-born workers, women as compared to men, and the long-term unemployment rate and the degree of labor market exclusion experienced both by young and by low-skilled workers.

According to the OECD,  a sustainable social market economy able to combine market efficiency with social justice requires the state to take on more than a minimalist “night watch man” role. Rather, it requires a strong state led by actors that understand the need for social equity as a means of ensuring participation opportunities.

Generally, the U.S. ranks 22nd for unemployment and long-term unemployment.

Here’s the OECD’s labor inclusiveness ranking:

1. Iceland

2. Norway

3. Switzerland

4. South Korea

5. Australia

6. New Zealand

7. Netherlands

8. Canada

9. Denmark

10. Mexico

11. Japan

12. Finland

13. Austria

14. Sweden

15. United Kingdom

16. United States

17. Chile

18. Germany

19. Luxembourg

20. Portugal

21. France

22. Czech Republic

23. Ireland

24. Belgium

25. Italy

26. Greece

27. Poland

28. Turkey

29. Hungary

30. Spain

31. Slovakia.

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