One of the most striking things about the United States is the degree to which racial inequality remains a pervasive fact of life. Indeed, since the end of the 1960s the black-white gap in life chances (for example, jobs and income) has worsened for large segments of the black community. To persistently face high unemployment and declining income is especially troublesome in a capitalist economy like that in the United States, where goods and services are rationed by a harsh market and where there is, at best, a very modest social safety net. The United Nation's Human Development Report 1993, which measured the quality of life not merely between countries but among population groups within countries, found that white Americans, as a group, possess the best life chances—in terms of life expectancy, education, purchasing power, and other factors—among 173 countries in the study. Blacks and Latinos ranked 31st and 35th respectively, which puts their quality of life among impoverished Third World countries.


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