Living standards in the United States are among the highest in the world, but the differences between poor and rich are greater than in most other industrialized countries. In recent decades, the income gaps have widened further. The financial crisis and the recession of the second half of the 1990s have left deep traces even among the middle class.
It took seven years after the financial crisis in 2008 before the development turned, so that median income began to increase again. It was not until 2018 that the percentage that was officially counted as poor was clearly lower than before the crisis and then amounted to almost 12 percent of the population, or just over 38 million people. Nearly 20 million Americans lived in extreme poverty, defined as household income below half the poverty standard. Among children, one in five was poor, among blacks one in four. Social exclusion and poverty are also more common among Latinos and urinals than in the white population.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in United States, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
The Corona pandemic has also quickly clarified the fact that the United States has a limited social protection network compared to other industrialized countries. Already at the end of March 2020, cash grants to households were included in financial support measures, because many people suddenly stood completely unaided (see Calendar). The risk is imminent that the proportion of poor people will grow rapidly due to the effects of the pandemic, not least as unemployment has exploded (see Labor Market). From a contagious point of view, it is bothersome that many people have no right to sick pay. In addition, many are without health insurance (see below).
The differences in safety nets are large in the country. But a basic philosophy has been that social benefits and conditions should be regulated in agreements in the workplace. This means that the conditions vary widely between different groups of employees. There is no holiday legislation and no statutory right to paid holidays or compensation for sick leave. Two weeks of total leave is common.
Child care is mainly conducted under private supervision. Child support does not exist, although families can apply for support-tested support. Mothers are entitled to up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave at childbirth. Some workplaces, but far from all, have paid parental leave as an extra benefit for their employees.
There is a federal social security system (Social Security) that mainly includes pensions and disability benefits, as well as certain social security contributions. The retirement age for those who want to receive full pension is 66 years and should be increased to 67 years.
Unlike other industrialized countries, on the other hand, the United States lacks a national health insurance system that covers all residents. In the 1960s, programs were introduced for low-income earners (Medicaid) and for senior citizens (Medicare). Since the 1990s, there is a special program (Chip) for children in families who are relatively poor but earn too much for Medicaid. All former military personnel have also long been covered by a coherent and publicly funded healthcare system (Veterans Health Administration, VHA).
Among the Americans who are not covered by the above system, formerly more than half had health insurance that employers covered most, but many were completely without protection. The Health Insurance Act “Obamacare” (Affordable Care Act, ACC), signed in 2010, meant that people without health insurance became obliged to buy one of these by private insurance companies. When Barack Obama’s presidential term expired in 2017, the number of people without insurance had decreased by over 20 million people, or from 16 to just under 8 percent of the population. Since then, both the number and the proportion of people without health insurance have started to increase again. A total of 27.5 million Americans were without health insurance in 2018.
Republicans have been raging against Obamacare since the law was introduced and have tried to stop it both in court and in Congress, without success. At the end of 2017, however, a tax reform was adopted, which entails a potential base shot against the ACC (see Economic overview). This is because the penalty (in the form of tax) was abolished for people who do not obtain health insurance. This threatens to erode the funding. In addition, new attempts to claim before the court followed that the law violates the Constitution (see Calendar). The trend on public health insurance in the United States is not over.
One purpose of Obamacare was also to reduce the cost trend for healthcare in the United States. Healthcare’s share of GDP is significantly higher in the US than in any other country (about 18 percent in 2017; in Sweden, the figure was 11 percent). Public health expenditures, per capita, are also among the highest in the world, even though only half of the total costs are paid for by public funds. The large costs are mainly due to expensive bureaucracy and high prices for treatment.
Abortion is a contentious issue in the United States. Abortion law did not exist or was severely restricted in almost all states before the Supreme Court in a ruling in 1973 (known as Roe v. Wade) made abortions legal throughout the country. Resistance has remained strong and many states have laws that in various ways restrict access to abortion. Under Ronald Reagan, in the 1980s, a ban was imposed on federal funding of organizations that perform or provide information on abortions abroad. The ban has since been torn down by Democratic presidents and reintroduced by Republicans, most recently by Donald Trump in January 2017. The battle over abortion law has intensified and a number of states have recently tightened laws so that more and more women are effectively excluded from the possibility of having an abortion.. In 2019 alone, six states introduced an abortion ban as soon as a heart sound can be perceived from the fetus. It is basically impossible to have abortions because few women even have time to realize that they are pregnant before the border is crossed. Alabama has gone a step further and banned abortions in any case except when the woman’s life is at stake or if the fetus is not viable. In all cases, these stricter laws will be considered in court before they can begin to apply.
Drug abuse is one of America’s biggest social problems. In the 2000s, there is talk of an opioid crisis, when the use of drug-classified painkillers has increased avalanche. Overdose of drug preparations has become the most common cause of death for people under 50 and caused the average life expectancy to decline for the first time in 100 years. Nearly 48,000 Americans died from opioids in 2017, representing two-thirds of all overdose deaths. The figure includes both natural opiates and synthetic drugs, and both legal and illegal drugs. That same year, President Trump announced a national health emergency due to the opioid crisis (see also Calendar: September 15, 2019).
Cannabis is illegal at the federal level, for both pleasure and medical purposes. In more than half of the states, however, marijuana is approved for medical use and since 2012, more and more states have also legalized recreational use of cannabis (or marijuana, which is dried plant parts). A main argument in the ongoing legalization trend is that the harmful effects of cannabis are less than the social costs that criminalization entails. Legal processes for possession of marijuana entail large costs to society and make criminals hundreds of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens (see also Justice in the Political System).
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Infant Mortality: 6 per 1000 births (2018)
Percentage of HIV infected: 0.4 percent (2016)
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 99.2 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to toilets: 100.0 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 16.8 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person: US $ 9,870 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament: 20 percent (2018)
The US leaves Iraq
US troops leave Iraq after almost nine years. About 4,500 Americans have lost their lives and the war has cost almost $ 1,000 billion.
Occupy Wall Street begins
A protest movement, “Occupy Wall Street,” is launching demonstrations in New York’s financial district. The supporters protest against greed and economic and social injustice. The protests will spread to other parts of the United States and also abroad in the coming months.
Military law on homosexuality ceases
An almost 20-year-old law that has banned employees in the military from openly announcing homosexuality ceases to apply. Militants are allowed to state that they are gay without risking being fired
The US credit rating is lowered
A few hours before the state was forced to suspend its payments, the Senate approves an increase in the ceiling for state borrowing. Thus, a program to reduce state spending by at least $ 2,100 billion over the next ten years is being adopted. However, the politicians’ “lack of leadership” means that the US credit rating is lowered a few days later by the Standard & Poor’s Institute, which has never happened before.
bin Laden is killed
Al Qaeda terrorist leader Saudis Usama bin Laden is shot by US soldiers in a ground operation outside Islamabad, Pakistan. The effort is seen as a great success for President Barack Obama.
Budget agreement at the last moment
After weeks of discussions, Republicans and Democrats in Congress finally agree on a cost plan for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. A budget for 2011 has not previously been clubbed in Congress. If the parties had not agreed, parts of the state apparatus would have been forced to close because the state funds granted had expired. The settlement means spending will be cut by just over $ 38 billion by September. On April 14, both the Senate and the House of Representatives voted in favor of the agreed cost plan.
Air strikes in Libya
The United States, together with France and the United Kingdom, launches air strikes against Muammar Gaddafi’s government forces in Libya. The aim is to protect civilians and prevent a humanitarian disaster after the regime forces have taken up arms against rebels demanding Gaddafi’s departure. On March 27, the United States hands over the main responsibility for the efforts of the NATO defense alliance.
Attacks on politicians
Six people are shot to death and 14 injured when a 22-year-old man shoots straight into a crowd at a Democratic Square meeting in Tucson, Arizona. Democratic congressman Gabrielle Giffords, 40, is seriously injured. Among those killed are an assistant to Giffords, a judge and a nine-year-old girl. There is no clear motive for the act and the 22-year-old is later sentenced to life imprisonment.