Why Is The US Not On The Metric System?

The United States is one of only three countries in the world that have not officially adopted the metric system. The other two are Myanmar and Liberia.

So, why is the US not on the metric system? Well, there are a few reasons.

Unsuccessful History Of Metric Adoption In The States

Source: bbc.co.uk

First, the US has a long history of using customary units, which are the units of measurement that were traditionally used in a particular country or region. These units were typically based on the sizes and weights of common objects. And they varied from place to place. So, it wasn’t really practical to use them for trade or science.

And while from this perspective, it may seem like no one ever tried to fix this – this wasn’t the case.

1789 Constitution granted the US Congress the authority to adopt any standard of measure, but at that point, no one really cared as much, and US citizens and businessmen decided to stick with the imperial system left over from the British.

Now, in 1866, Congress passed another law, called the Metric Act of 1866, which supplied each state with a set of measuring standards. It was a move in the right direction, but again, there was no real effort to impose the metric system on individuals or businesses.

Source: slideplayer.com

Finally, in 1975, Congress passed the Metric Conversion Act, whose goal was “to coordinate and plan the increasing use of the metric system in the United States”.

However, despite the best efforts, this law did not include any enforcement mechanisms to make sure that businesses and individuals actually used it. All it did was increase public awareness, but most people were still hesitant to even try and adopt the system that was used globally.

So, as a result, US citizens, to this day, rely on tools like the length converter when they try to calculate how long the football pitch is in meters.

What Is The Real Reason Americans Still Use Imperial System?

Source: sciencenews.org

If we’re being completely honest, the real and probably the only reason why the US is still clinging to the imperial system is money. Well, time and money.

During the industrial revolution, manufacturing plants in the country became the US’s biggest source of wealth – both for the country and the people. And those plants were built using the imperial system. As a result, if the US switched to the metric system, it would have to rebuild all of its factories, which would be an incredibly costly and time-consuming endeavor.

And, sure, some might say that it’s not really that big of a deal and that other countries have done it without any major issues. But, when you’re the richest and most powerful country in the world, you can afford to be a little bit pickier about these things, can’t you?

And while there are some minute efforts by the government to make the switch, we’re still not certain that the States will ever transition over from the “dark side”.


So, there you have it. That’s why the US is still using the imperial system even though virtually everyone else has switched to the metric system a long time ago. It’s simply too expensive and too much of a hassle to flip everything upside down and go toe-to-toe with the rest of the world.