ISO International Understanding
Mar 04, 1997 07:27 AM
by K. Paul Johnson
My library just got a book that gives a fascinating series of
snapshots of humanity's present circumstances. It's called The
Illustrated Book of World Rankings, and consists of list after
list of nations in order of different criteria, involving
vital statistics, health, religion, education, politics,
military affairs, economics, trade, agriculture, industry,
communications, transportation, environment, relative status of
women, crime, consumption, housing, and more.
Have been so fascinated with some things that I wanted to share
them with someone. Having decided that this kind of info falls
under the First Object, I'm posting some tidbits in hopes for
comments from our international readership.
The first shocker for me was the crime and murder statistics.
Here in the US we constantly hear media talking heads saying
that we are far, far worse off than any other industrialized
countries in this regard. It ain't so! We are 19th in murder
rate, behind the Netherlands (9) and about equal with Russia
(20) and not far ahead of Sweden (23), Italy (25), and Canada
(29). That's of 84 reporting, so none of us can be proud. But everyone
between #15 and #30 have between 5 and 10 murders per 100,000,
whereas the rates in some of the top 10 are truly horrifying:
#1 Swaziland 87.76, #2, Bahamas 52.61, #3, MONACO! 36, #4,
Philippines 30.12, #5, Guatemala 27.4.
Even odder, in overall crime rate we in the US are at #20,
after Austria (19), France (18), Australia (15), Germany (12),
Netherlands (10). Even more surprisingly #s 4-9 are Sweden,
New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, Finland and the UK. However it
is hard to trust this scale too much when you look at the
alleged lowest crime rates in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Togo. How
likely are their statistics to be reliable?
To shift focus to something more positive (hope Kym is
reading), in "female share of administrative and managerial
positions as percent of male" the US is 3rd at 68%, behind
Australia and Canada just slightly higher. Islam looks pretty
horrible in this regard, as the bottom 10 include Qatar (1%),
United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, and
Kuwait, all at 5% or under.
Another positive: Canada and the US are #1 and #2 in higher
education enrollment percentage, around 40% of people over 25
having college degrees. The UK is at 11%, Argentina and NZ
under 7, below Iran and Mongolia! What gives?
Hey, before you say our college graduates are dumber than their
high school graduates, remember that this may be true of the US
but is not likely true of Canada.
Here's a bizarre gender disparity: French women are the world's
longest-lived except for tiny San Marino, but French men rank
#17. God's punishment for the people who invented the word
Russia has more than 3 abortions for every live birth, 10 times
the rate of the US.
Puzzlers for consideration: Argentina is lowest in murder at
.14/100,000, but Chile is #28 at 5.81; Finland is next to
lowest at .6, but Sweden is #23 at 7.02. I confess to having
assumed these pairs of countries to be pretty similar in such
The most embarrassing statistic for me was that the US is not
just #1 in GNP, but half again as large as #2 Japan, twice as
large as #3 Germany, five times as large as the UK. Yet the UK
publishes almost twice as many books per year as we do, and
China and Germany are ahead of us too.
A weird pattern is that Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania
are #1-4 in accidental deaths, 4-5 times the rate of the US,
which sits at #55 flanked by China and Italy. Must be the
HPB's claims about Buddhists being more moral than Christians
don't jive very well with Sri Lanka and Thailand having higher
murder rates than the U.S. The five lowest are Indonesia,
Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Finland, and Argentina, which makes
Islam and Christianity look like good influences in some places
at least. But the country with the highest percentage of
Christians, Moldova at 98.5%, is not a very good example
although the country with the lowest percent, Somalia at .1 is
surely a sign that things go better with Jesus.
Nepal has a higher percentage of Hindus than India does.
Despite their vegetarianism, India has the highest per capita
cattle, double that of the US. And also the world's largest
vegetable production by a long shot; China leads in pork
production and smoking yet its cancer rate is lower than most
European countries. The US is #1 in total meat consumption,
but Ireland has the highest daily calories.
The English language seems to be some kind of preventative of
suicide, as in the bottom 10 of 24 reporting are Australia,
Canada, New Zealand, the US, Scotland, England/Wales. Highest
are Hungary, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland,
People are 25 times more likely to die in auto accidents in #1
Portugal than in bottom ranked Chile.
We think of illegitimacy as an American problem, but rank 35th
right under the UK with 29.5 percent of births to unwed
mothers. In some African and Caribbean countries the rate is
over 70%, but also Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, and New Zealand
are well ahead of us in illegitimacy.
One amusing stat was that #1 in home ownership was Mongolia at
100%. The obvious implication is that we can end homelessness
in America by introducing yurts.
That's probably plenty for now, but if anyone has any questions
just ask and I'll look it up.
Oh, one last guilty thought. As I sit here goofing off on the
Net, I can't help pondering the fact that the US is #5 in
energy use per capita, 7918 kg, 10 times more than mid-ranked
Uruguay and Thailand, 100 times as much as Vietnam or Sierra
Leone, and 1000 times as much as Somalia.
Time to sign off.
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