NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Social Indicators Are Headed In A Positive Direction

February 26, 1999

America is in the early stages of a remarkable cultural renaissance, says economist Stephen Moore, reversing three decades of declining social indicators.

Although social problems are still worse than in the more tranquil 1950s, civil society is making a comeback. For instance, as American Enterprise magazine points out:

  • Teen sexual activity in the United States fell by 11 percent from 1991 to 1997, and cocaine and marijuana use has fallen by almost half since 1980.
  • Welfare caseloads have dropped by nearly 40 percent since 1993.
  • The crime rate has fallen by a third since the mid-1980s.
  • The abortion rate is down nearly 20 percent since 1990, and the divorce rate dropped 19 percent from 1981 to 1996.

True, these recent trends come after three decades in which the violent crime rate quadrupled, and out-of-wedlock births, single- parent households and teen suicides tripled. However, the more recent positive trends coincide with actions that indicate the nation is heeding conservatives' warnings. For instance, the welfare rolls have declined due to welfare reforms emphasizing work and crime rates are falling because Americans have decided to get tough on criminals.

Source: Stephen Moore (Cato Institute), "Good News: America Has Reversed Its Social, Ethical Decline," Dallas Morning News, February 25, 1999.


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