A report by a respected German think tank ranks the United States 27th among the world’s 31 richest nations when it comes to social equality while a separate US report noted that the income of the top one percent of Americans grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007.

The findings of the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report (October 25), won’t surprise the growing number of protesters at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations who call themselves the “99 percenters” - the remaining 99% of US wage earners. The bipartisan CBO found that while the income of the top 1 percent of US households jumped in the 30-year period that ended just before the financial collapse of 2008, incomes for US wage earners at the bottom and in the middle of the scale grew by only 18 to 40 percent over the same period

The Wall Street protesters probably won’t be surprised by the German report either, although it has received little notice. Researchers at the Bertelsmann Foundation published (October 27) a Social Justice Index for 31 countries of the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development), placing the United States at number 27, just above Greece, Chile, Mexico and Turkey.

According to the report, Northern European states, including Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, were the most socially just countries in the OECD and well above its average.  Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Slovakia, although below the OECD average, had higher social justice ratings than the US.

The Bertelsmann report also ranked the US lower on other measures: 29th in “poverty prevention,” 20th in “access to education,” 16th in “labor market inclusion” and 16th in “social cohesion and nondiscrimination”.

In a reference to the report, New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote (October 28) that Americans “are slowly - and painfully - being forced to realize that we are no longer the America of our imaginations. Our greatness was not enshrined. Being a world leader is less about destiny than focused determination, and it is there that we have faltered.”