NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bennett's "Index Of Leading Cultural Indicators" Finds Mixed Trends

October 12, 1999

Empower America's William J. Bennett has issued his latest "Index of Leading Cultural Indicators," and he finds reasons to cheer as well as frown.

First the good news, as he sees it:

  • The total crime rate fell 15.4 percent between 1990 and 1997 -- and the murder rate is the lowest it has been since 1967.
  • Average Scholastic Assessment Test scores rose by 16 points between 1990 and 1998.
  • Charitable giving increased by 38 percent between 1990 and 1998.
  • Welfare rolls were down by 46.5 percent from 1994 to 1998.

Now for some areas of social regression, in Bennett's view:

  • In 1996, American 12th-graders ranked 19th out of 21 nations in mathematics achievement.
  • Television violence involving gunplay rose 334 percent from 1992 to 1995.
  • The proportion of 12th-graders using any illegal drug rose from 47.9 percent in 1990 to 54.1 percent in 1998.

Bennett issued his first index of cultural indicators in 1994.

Source: Cheryl Wetzstein, "Index of 'Cultural Indicators' Sees Trends 'Decidedly Mixed,'" Washington Times, October 12, 1999.


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