Washington, DC, July 12, 2016—Government growth has surged in the last 10 years, but it hasn’t seemed to have improved the lives of average Americans or their communities, according to The Heritage Foundation’s 2016 Index of Culture and Opportunity.
The Index, which was published today on Medium.com, tracks 31 indicators of America’s social foundations, levels of poverty and dependence, and educational and economic conditions—providing a larger picture of how Americans’ opportunity to advance and prosper is faring.
“When we look at the 10-year trends in these indicators, government expansion has far outstripped growth in opportunities for individuals to get ahead,” says Jennifer Marshall, Index co-editor and vice president for Heritage’s Institute of Family, Community and Opportunity.
As Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint points out in the Index's preface, “This should concern all Americans, whatever their political affiliation, who want to help the poorest among us and preserve the prosperity of our hard-working fellow citizens who have been blessed to find it.”
With 31 charts paired with commentary by experts from Heritage, other think tanks, universities, and the media, the Index is a top resource for identifying the indicators that contribute to opportunity for all—or hinder it. As for the latter, this year’s Index shows obstacles in a declining marriage rate, lower work force participation, increased dependence on public housing and food stamps, along with skyrocketing student loan debt and increased drug use among teens.
“Our Index shows that we need reforms across policy issues—from curbing marriage penalties in the welfare system, to advancing educational choice, to reducing regulations that hamper business start-ups—along with sustained efforts at the community level,” Marshall notes.
Contributing authors for this year’s Index include: author, philosopher and theologian Michael Novak; Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback; Mary C. Mayhew, commissioner of Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services; Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist; Ken Blackwell, senior fellow at the Family Research Council; Nina Rees, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; and Sabrina Schaeffer, executive director of the Independent Women’s Forum.
The full report is available at 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.