Sunday, March 21, 2010

America the Incomparable

I hear rather frequently that America is such a unique country that international comparisons are pointless. I disagree but am willing to test my convictions with data. I will be making a series of posts examining assertions about why America is incomparable to see if any of these objections stand up to analysis. My goal with this analysis will not be to advance highly wonky arguments, there are plenty of paid professionals doing that who are more expert than I am. My contribution will be to look at the objections to this type of analysis that seem so common on blogs, or in casual conversation, that are not being treated seriously by specialists.

Most of these posts will be a simple chart and regression testing hypotheses about why America is different in regards to particular issues. The first series of posts will examine issues related to health care. I have very frequently seen data on how the US stacks up so poorly in international comparisons. In most cases, I hear objections to these comparisons on various grounds that can be directly tested. Some of the more frequent objections I hear are that the US is too populous to be compared, that we are too ethnically diverse, or that our health habits are too bad. Over the next few weeks I will take up each of these topics to see if the data supports these objections or not.

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