Quantifying America's Declineby William J. Bennett
The Wall Street Journal,Monday, March 15, 1993
Is out Culture declining? I have tried to quantify the answer to this question with the creation of the Index of Leading Cultural Indicators.
In the early 1960s, the Census Bureau began publishing the Index of Leading Economic Indicators. These 11 measurements, taken together, represent the best means we now have of interpreting current business developments and predicting future economic trends.
The Index of Leading Cultural Indicators, a compilation of the Heritage Foundation and Empower America, attempts to bring a similar kind of data-based analysis to cultural issues. It is a statistical portrait (from 1960 to the present) of the moral, social and behavioral conditions of modern American society--matters that, in our time, often travel under the banner of ``values.'' Perhaps no one will be surprised to learn that, according to the index, America's cultural condition is far from healthy. What is shocking is just how precipitously American life has declined in the past 30 years, despite the enormous government effort to improve it.
Since 1960, the U.S. population has increased 41%; the gross domestic product has nearly tripled; and total social spending by all levels of government (measured in constant 1990 dollars) has risen from $143.73 billion to $787 billion--more than a fivefold increase. Inflation-adjusted spending on welfare has increased by 630%, spending on education by 225%.
But during the same 30-year period there has been a 560% increase in violent crime, a 419% increase in illegitimate births; a quadrupling in divorce rates; a tripling of the percentage of children living in single-parent homes; more than a 200% increase in the teenage suicide rate; and a drop of almost 80 points in SAT scores. Click Here to See Stats: [data tabulated below]