Every year, Americans spend a combined 600,000 years stuck in traffic.
If you’re thinking that time could be spent a little more productively, you’re not the only one.
In fact, even politicians are taking notice of aging and insufficient infrastructure in the United States. Recently, President Trump has started mapping out his $1 trillion plan to rebuild the country’s roads, bridges, and airports – and it is worth mentioning that infrastructure spending was also a key component of Bernie Sanders’ platform as well.
A Look at America’s Infrastructure
Today’s infographic is from HighTide Technologies, and it dives into the infrastructure situation in the United States, including a comparison of federal and state spending.
According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the United States currently has an “infrastructure gap”. If the discrepancy is not closed between what needs to be invested in infrastructure and what is actually invested, it could ultimately create a $4 trillion drag on GDP by 2025.
As a result, between 2016 and 2025, each American household will lose $3,400 in disposable income due to infrastructure inefficiencies.
What Needs To Be Fixed?
Should money go to roadways, airports, water systems, broadband networks, or rail?
The biggest challenge facing America’s infrastructure problem is where to get the biggest ROI from infrastructure investments. Putting a trillion dollars towards problems that don’t really exist would be a catastrophic failure to everyone involved, with the exception of any crony capitalists that find a way to profit.
One viewpoint on this again comes from the American Society of Civil Engineers: they figure that by 2020, the U.S. needs to put $1.7 trillion towards roads, bridges and transit, $736 billion to electricity and power grids, $391 billion towards schools, $134 billion to airports, and $131 billion to waterways and related projects.
But even with these kinds of targets in place, how the decisions are actually made is another potential issue. Infrastructure investments are notoriously hard to gauge and often run overbudget. They are also capital-intensive, constrained by regulations, and disrupting to daily life at a local level, where the investments are being made.
Trump’s current plan is to provide $137 billion in tax credits to create incentives for private industry to spend the dough – but it remains to be seen how this will play out to mitigate the above risks, while solving the most important problems at both state and local levels.
Which Countries are the Most Polarized?
This chart plots polarization for various countries based on the Edelman Trust Institute’s annual survey of 32,000+ people.
Which Countries are the Most Polarized?
How do you measure something that’s made headlines for half a decade but is still difficult to quantify? We’re talking about polarization.
How Do You Quantify Polarization?
Edelman’s data on which countries are the most polarized comes from survey results asking respondents two very simple questions:
- How divided is their country?
- How entrenched is the divide?
The questions help bring to light the social issues a particular country is facing and the lack of consensus on those issues.
Plotted against each other, a chart emerges. A country in the top–right corner of the chart is “severely polarized.” Countries located closer to the lower–left are considered less polarized.
In the report, Edelman identifies four metrics to watch for and measure which help quantify polarization.
|Economic Anxieties||Will my family be better off in five years?|
|Institutional Imbalance||Government is viewed as unethical and incompetent.|
|Class Divide||People with higher incomes have a higher trust in institutions.|
|Battle for Truth||Echo chambers, and a low trust in media.|
Following Edelman’s metrics, countries with economic uncertainty and inequality as well as institutional distrust are more likely to be polarized. Below, we look at key highlights from the chart.
Severely Polarized Countries
Despite being one of the largest economies in Latin America, Argentina is the most polarized country surveyed by a large margin. Foreign loan defaults, a high fiscal deficit, and now surging inflation have created a perfect storm in the country.
43% of the Argentinian respondents said they will be better off in five years, down 17 percentage points from last year.
Along with fiscal upheaval, Argentinians are also dealing with enduring corruption in the public sector and abrupt policy reversals between governments. Only 20% of those surveyed in Argentina said they trusted the government—the least of all surveyed countries.
Here are all six of the countries considered to be severely polarized:
🇺🇸 United States
🇿🇦 South Africa
In the U.S., heightened political upheaval between Democrats and Republicans over the last few years has led to strengthening ideological stances and to an abundance of headlines about polarization. Only 42% of respondents in the country trust the government.
And in South Africa, persistent inequality and falling trust in the African National Congress also check off Edelman’s metrics. It’s also second after Argentina with the least trust in government (22%) per the survey.
Moderately Polarized Countries
The biggest cluster of 15 countries are in moderately polarized section of the chart, with all continents represented.
🇰🇷 South Korea
🇬🇧 United Kingdom
Some are on the cusp of being severely polarized, including economic heavyweights like Japan, the UK, France, and Germany. On the other hand, smaller economies like Thailand, Kenya, and Nigeria, are doing comparatively better on the polarization chart.
Less Polarized Countries
Countries with fair economic outlook and high trust in institutions including China, Singapore, and India are in the bottom left sector of the chart.
🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
It’s interesting to note that of the seven countries in that sector, three are not democracies. That said, there are also more developing countries on this list as well, which could also be a factor.
Edelman notes that polarization is both “cause and consequence of distrust,” creating a self-fulfilling cycle. Aside from the four metrics stated above, concerns about the erosion of civility and weakening social fabric also lead to polarization.
As global events unfold in 2023—including looming worries of a recession—it will be fascinating to see how countries might switch positions in the year to come.
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