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The U.S. May Be Rich, But It Leaves A Lot Of People Hungry

The U.S. May Be Rich, But It Leaves A Lot Of People Hungry
Sadik Gulec via Shutterstock

For a rich country, the U.S. has a lot of hungry people. Look at this chart from the Pew Research Center. It shows the percentage of people who say they cannot afford enough food:


Most of the nations are plotted where you might expect. Uganda, Senegal and Mexico, for example, are relatively poor countries. The surprise comes on the extreme right. The U.S. has high national income (about $55,000 per person). And yet 24% of Americans say there have been times when they couldn’t afford to feed themselves, or their families.

As Pew’s Bruce Stokes notes in a commentary, this puts the U.S. out on a limb in the rich world:

Americans’ reported level of deprivation is closer to that experienced by Indonesians or Greeks than it is the British or the Canadians. In fact, the percentage of Americans who say they could not afford the food needed by their families at some point in the last year is three times that in Germany, more than twice that in Italy and Canada.

A fuller version of the survey also shows 31% can’t afford health care (which isn’t surprising, given how ridiculously expensive it is). 27% say the same for clothing.

Of course, the U.S. picture is still much better than in some poor places. Across 14 developing economies, the median level was 49% for food, 55% for health care, and 56% for clothing. Uganda had the worst numbers of the countries studied. Still, not much to be proud of.

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