Like dozens of other countries in the world, the US is celebrating Mother’s Day this coming Sunday (May 13). Except for Christmas, this is the holiday on which Americans spend most. This year, a projected $23.1 billion will be splurged on gifts for mom, for a day marked in some way or the other by 86% of the country.
But during the rest of the year, America isn’t so generous toward its mothers. According to Save the Children’s latest State of the World’s Mothers report, published in 2015, the US ranks 33rd (pdf, p. 11) for quality of life for mothers—behind all other industrialized countries.
The report focuses on health and other social markers such as the likelihood of losing a child who’s under five, access to education and female representation in government (something that tends to be associated with more family-friendly policies), but the reasons that make motherhood harder in America go beyond that.
The US has a maternal mortality crisis. With an estimated 26.4 deaths for every 100,000 live births in 2015—it lacks the solid data to measure the true size of the problem—the US is an outlier not just in rich countries, but worldwide. With few exceptions, countries have drastically reduced the number of maternal deaths since the 1990s. In America, that rate has increased.
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