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July 23, 2014

Heritage Foundation Releases First Annual “Index of Culture and Opportunity”

Washington, DC, July 23, 2014—Numerous social and economic trends are at work, shaping and re-shaping America.  And now they’re being tracked—in the 2014 Index of Culture and Opportunity, released today by The Heritage Foundation’s Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity.

The Index tracks 31 cultural and economic indicators—from the marriage rate and religious attendance to welfare dependence, workforce participation, and educational opportunities—and categorizes them in three sections: culture, poverty and dependence, and general opportunity.

It offers an at-a-glance view of change, as registered by each indicator over the last 10 years, and discusses the ramifications of those changes—whether they are moving in the right or wrong direction.

“The Index concentrates on key social and economic factors that contribute to Americans’ opportunity to flourish,” says Jennifer Marshall, Index co-editor and vice president for the Institute. “Many of these indicators are not headed in the right direction. We need sustained attention, among policymakers and in neighborhoods across the country, to get back on track and improve opportunity for all Americans.”

While the marriage rate has declined and unwed childbearing continues to rise, the abortion rate and violent crime rate have decreased, indicating the importance of focused effort in policy and civil society, the Index reports. Self-sufficiency has not improved—even though it was the original goal of the War on Poverty launched a half century ago—and food stamp participation has significantly increased in recent years. More students are participating in K-12 school choice programs, but the student loan burden for college graduates continues to grow.

The comprehensive report also includes editorial perspectives from 13 experts in think tanks, universities, and the media. Among those contributing essays are: Robert Doar, Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at the American Enterprise Institute; Charles A. Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute; Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Ron Haskins, co-director of the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families, Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor-at-large of National Review Online; Lawrence M. Mead, professor of politics and public policy at New York University, and Lisa Snell, director of Education and Child Welfare at the Reason Foundation.

Read the full report and find out which societal indicators are on the wrong and right tracks at Index.Heritage.org/Culture.

One of the nation’s leading think tanks, The Heritage Foundation is committed to developing public policy solutions that advance free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional values and a strong national defense.

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