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Most reliable stat to indicate average wealth?

  1. Dec 17, 2006 #1

    ShawnD

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    A common complaint I see over and over again about the US is how there's a large gap between poverty and wealth. Rich people are the richest in the world, and poor are some of the poorest (I think they mean in terms of living conditions, life expectancy, health care, etc). Averaging all of these things out, USA has an incredibly high GDP per capita of $41,600. By comparison, Canada is at $33,900. Sweden, often thought of as the best country in the world, has a GDP per capita of $29,800. The conclusion to draw from this is that GDP per capita means essentially nothing in terms of how the average person in that country lives

    Is there any statistic or index that can be used to directly compare living conditions between countries? Something like a simple number where bigger means better?
     
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  3. Dec 17, 2006 #2

    verty

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    It sounds like your definition of 'average person' is not well defined. GDP per capita is the average.
     
  4. Dec 17, 2006 #3

    ShawnD

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    By average person I mean the most common person. If you had 10 people making 10k per year and 10 people making 100k per year, the average is 55k per year, but not a single person makes 55k per year.
    The problem with GDP per capita is that it averages the lower and upper classes to give a number for where a middle class should be, even if that middle class doesn't exist. Sure some Americans make 40k per year, but the vast majority make less than that. Same deal with Canada's 33k, but to a lesser extent. Sweden's number is probably more accurate because they're very socialist, which makes the bell-curve a lot more narrow and normal looking. Extreme capitalism does the opposite; it widens the curve and makes it look more 1-sided.
     
  5. Dec 17, 2006 #4

    Astronuc

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    I don't think there is such a standard. Per capita GDP is not a good indicator for the standard of living, although a high GDP may indicate a greater likelihood or potential of achieving a better standard of living or quality of life. But then one has to define 'the standard of living or quality of life'.

    One could perhaps use the ratio of per capita GDP with a cost of living.
     
  6. Dec 17, 2006 #5

    russ_watters

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    Poorest in the world or just poorest among western nations?
    Well average is, by definition....average. So what are you asking? Do you want the median? Broken down by 5ths?
    That sounds like a median...
    That sounds like breaking it down by 5ths.....

    By 5ths, here is the average income for a household in each 5th:
    1st: $10,655
    2nd: $27,357
    3rd: $46,301
    4th: $72,825
    5th: $159,583

    And the average of the 3rd fifth is approximately the median.

    And here are the limits of each fifth:
    1st: $19,178
    2nd: $36,000
    3rd: $57,660
    4th: $91,705
    5th: $166,000 (limit to get to the top 5%)

    So...
    Based on the numbers above, that is simply not correct. And I know where you get that flawed understanding: the Democratic party has been pounding it into the American votor for a decade that the middle class is dying. It simply isn't true. I don't know where you would draw the lines, but from the above data, 20% of households make less than $19k, 20% make between $19k and $36k, 20% make between $36K and $57k, etc.... It is not a two-peak bell curve as the Democratic party would have you believe (with the lower peak vastly larger than the upper peak).
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2006
  7. Dec 17, 2006 #6

    ShawnD

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    That's pretty much the kind of stat I was looking for. Thanks Russ.
     
  8. Dec 17, 2006 #7

    russ_watters

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    Regarding that opening premise, THIS site has an interesting graph about halfway down that shows that the poor in the US have a roughly equal standard of living to the poor in other western countries. The primary difference between us and them, then, is that the right side of the income distribution is stretched. So while you could argue that the American system doesn't do much to pull up the lower classes (*big caveat), it doesn't make the poor poorer to make the rich richer. *The big caveat, of course, is that in those socialist countries like Finland and Sweden, the government pulls up the poor - so in the US, it must be the free market economics that pulls the poor up to the same level.
     
  9. Dec 18, 2006 #8
    You wouldnt see what happened in New Orleans happen in any other Western Country. Perhaps in the East Bloc of Europe, but thats about it.

    THAT site you link to is some FAR right think tank, its anti-european union, in fact its anti-european (Full stop).

    Its a UK Based site that probably has some affinity with UKIP, which we all know are a bunch of xenophobic racists, are completely fringe and are aligned with the BNP party. Whom nobody takes seriously, but hey if you want to link to that then by all means do it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2006
  10. Dec 18, 2006 #9
    That graph isn't very useful, since it just shows the percentage of median income, ie. factors out the actual median inclome. What we really need is a graph (or table) which compares (RPI adjusted) median incomes for different counties. Can anyone find one?
     
  11. Dec 18, 2006 #10

    russ_watters

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    That really isn't relevant to this thread.
    Yes, I know. I used it anyway, since the graph isn't theirs.
    Well, namecalling is easier than looking at the data.... :rolleyes:
     
  12. Dec 18, 2006 #11
    It is, I was referring to the lack of support you gave the most desperate in your community.
    No Russ your source manipulate data to make anything to do with the EU a *bad* thing. Its Euroscepticism to the extreme. They are trying to make the EU look like the new USSR, which you seem to do also, at least in as much as you try to make France the new Soviets.
     
  13. Dec 18, 2006 #12

    cristo

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    Are you sure about that?, because I'd say that support for UKIP and the BNP was growing. Is that not a sign that *some* people are taking them seriously?
     
  14. Dec 18, 2006 #13
    i think the UN does a ranking of quality of life among nations that includes things like access of health care, levels of freedom of speech, costs of living, median and average yearly wages, access to eduction and other factors that contribute to a high quality of life.
     
  15. Dec 18, 2006 #14
    No its not, just in some places where racial hatred is being stired up, and "islamaphobia" is rife, like blackburn.

    Nick Griffin is a holocaust denying fascist, who is a lucky man not to be behind bars. In fact he would have been but the law for inciting racial hatred didnt apply to Religions.

    Go and "you tube" Nick Griffin and u can see what that man is all about.

    The BNP and UKIP are fringe, and has NO support from the mainstream of society.
     
  16. Dec 18, 2006 #15

    cristo

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    When the BNP won seats in Blackburn then, yes, I agree this was due to racial hatred, however, this happened three or four years ago.

    More recently, a growing proportion of the population are getting worried by the increasing immigration problem, and are more and more frustrated by the fact that the major parties seem to refuse to do anything about this. UKIP's main policy is to withdraw from the EU; a policy which many people will see as a definite solution to this problem.

    I must add, I am in no way supporting these parties, but it is naive to think that only extremists will vote for them. These parties represent themselves in a way which seems like a good alternative option to solve the worries that many people of Britain hold. The longer that these parties are around, and the longer these problems continue, the more votes the BNP and UKIP will obtain. It's a worrying thought, but people vote on the issue that concerns them most, and many will not realise that the candidates for these parties are not the clean-cut politicians with clear ideas of how to solve the problems that are around, but are, in fact, much worse.
     
  17. Dec 18, 2006 #16

    russ_watters

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    Not quite. The graph relates incomes in each country to the median income - not of each country - to the US median income. It is normalized for standard of living. That's much more useful than just comparing median incomes.
    I really don't think it is relevant (ShawnD was correct about that), but I'll pull a few together....
     
  18. Dec 18, 2006 #17
    Rather than use the average (total wealth/total pop) of the country's wealth to measure average wealth, might I suggest you develop an INDEX of 5 or so "indications of prosperity" items that can be measured, so that each country around the world can be more accurately compared. You must also make consideration for home ownership, as a ratio of housing costs as a percent of total income (which can be factored into a weighted index). You then "weight" each item in the index according to concensus views on what is considered prosperity.
     
  19. Dec 18, 2006 #18

    russ_watters

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    Work got in the way.... Here's an article that has individual (as opposed to household) median income for several western countries: http://www.tcf.org/Publications/economicsinequality/wasow_middleclass.pdf

    Of the major western nations listed, only Switzerland is higher. But like the OP's main point, it doesn't tell you how typical (probably what he really meant by "average") people are doing.
     
  20. Dec 18, 2006 #19

    russ_watters

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    PPP is supposed to do that, but I agree that it would be interesting to measure things like percentage home/car ownership, computer ownership, tv's per household, etc.
     
  21. Dec 19, 2006 #20
    You are not wrong, however I never said extremists, I said non-mainstream. There is a difference.
     
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