July 23, 2015
Washington, DC, July 23, 2015 — For better or worse, America’s cultural trends shape the future of U.S. society. And The Heritage Foundation’s newly released 2015 Index of Culture and Opportunity finds that the health of America’s “social ecosystem” faces increasingly debilitating pressures on several fronts.
The Index is the first publication that Heritage has released on blogging platform Medium.com, signaling Heritage’s efforts to expand the Index’s discussion of cultural trends to new influential audiences. “By publishing the Index on Medium, we were able to take advantage of the visually stunning, responsive, and dynamic platform it offers,” says Ory Rinat, director of Heritage’s digital strategy.
From a declining marriage rate to a jump in average student loan debt, the Index provides a snapshot of whether the factors affecting every individual’s opportunity for success in the United States are headed in the right or wrong direction. In all, the report presents 10-year data trends for 31 cultural and economic indicators.
“Many of these indicators are on trajectories that are quite concerning to leaders trying to build a stronger society,” says Jennifer Marshall, Index co-editor and vice president for Heritage’s Institute of Family, Community and Opportunity. “Over the last decade, we’ve seen a drop in U.S. volunteerism, lagging participation in the work force, and increased unwed childbearing.”
“But these trends are not irreversible,” Marshall explains. “In fact, that’s why we’ve published the Index of Culture and Opportunity—to focus energy on indicators that will need to improve if we want to ensure opportunity for all.”
Nor are all of the indicators in the 2015 Index headed in the wrong direction. The abortion rate continues to decline to levels before the monumental Roe v. Wade abortion decision by the Supreme Court in 1973. Additionally, the number of students participating in school choice programs has more than tripled in the past decade.
The comprehensive report also includes analysis and commentary from 21 experts in think tanks, universities, and the media. Contributing authors include: Yuval Levin, Hertog fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and editor of National Affairs; Juan Williams, political analyst and co-host for “The Five” on FOX News Channel as well as columnist for The Hill; Mark Regnerus, associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas; Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of WORLD; Patrick Wolf, distinguished professor of education policy at the University of Arkansas; and Charmaine Yoest, president and CEO of Americans United for Life.
The full report is available at heritage.org/culture.