# News Most reliable stat to indicate average wealth?

1. Dec 17, 2006

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? 2. Dec 17, 2006 ### verty It sounds like your definition of 'average person' is not well defined. GDP per capita is the average. 3. Dec 17, 2006 ### ShawnD 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. 4. Dec 17, 2006 ### Astronuc Staff Emeritus 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. 5. Dec 17, 2006 ### russ_watters ### Staff: Mentor 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
6. Dec 17, 2006

### ShawnD

That's pretty much the kind of stat I was looking for. Thanks Russ.

7. Dec 17, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

Regarding that opening premise, http://www.free-europe.org/blog/english.php?itemid=327" 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.

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
8. Dec 18, 2006

### Anttech

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
9. Dec 18, 2006

### Severian

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?

10. Dec 18, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

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....

11. Dec 18, 2006

### Anttech

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.

12. Dec 18, 2006

### cristo

Staff Emeritus
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?

13. Dec 18, 2006

### devil-fire

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.

14. Dec 18, 2006

### Anttech

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.

15. Dec 18, 2006

### cristo

Staff Emeritus
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.

16. Dec 18, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

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....

17. Dec 18, 2006

### McGyver

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.

18. Dec 18, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

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 [Broken]

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.

Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
19. Dec 18, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

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.

20. Dec 19, 2006

### Anttech

You are not wrong, however I never said extremists, I said non-mainstream. There is a difference.

21. Dec 20, 2006

### EL

This makes the conclusions drawn from "Figure 8D" quite missleading, doesn't it?

Btw, I'm somewhat amazed Sweden is still often pictured as some ideal socialistic country.
First of all, Sweden is not socialistic. Of course we have a free market, not very different from US, and are at the moment run by a right wing government.
Second, I'm suprised (or should I say flattered) Sweden is still considered "a good country" despite the economic crises during the 90th (massive negative budget, interest of 500%, huge unemployment, etc). We went through some hard years of extensive welfare cuts, and it's really not until recent years the economy has shaped up. (In fact, we're going increadibly well at the moment!) Point is, Sweden's situation in year 2000 (which is the year considered in Figure 8D) is not something to be satisfied with. A much better choice is Norway.

Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
22. Dec 20, 2006

### EL

Percentage of population accepting the theory of evolution?

23. Dec 21, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

I'm really not sure if that's true or not. In the US, many (most?) "entitlements" (gawd, I hate that word) are doled-out as income and recorded as such. I suspect it is the same way in those socialist countries, otherwise the spectacularly high unemployment would show up in the data. I'm really not sure though.
Sorry, sometimes when I say "socialist", I mean "social welfare". I realize that the driving force in the economy is still market economics, the main difference is just that the government takes a far larger piece of everyone's earnings to redistribute it and runs a larger part of that market. Though it sort-of lets market rules run, it still is the entity that spends most of the money and employs most of the people.
I rather suspect that what you call "right wing" in Sweden is a lot more like Clinton than Bush.
I used Sweden as an example because it is the typical example socialists/social welfare types use. Though it may not be truly socialist, it is seen as the most socialist of western countries. It is used as an example for ideological reasons, not because it is a success story. Of course to ideologues, whether the ideology works is irrelevant to measuring success - they just want the ideas implimented, whether they really work or not.
And I used Norway as an example because it seems to be doing the best of any such nations. But cognitive dissidence prevents ideological types from accepting any less than the most socialist you can get, which is why people still try to argue using Sweden as the model.

But then, as I said, using Norway as the model is flawed for other reasons. That's why, IMO, Sweden (and the USSR and France and Germany) really is a good model of what happens when you go too far with social welfare. The model just doesn't show what social welfare types/ socialists wish it would.

Last edited: Dec 21, 2006
24. Dec 21, 2006

### Staff: Mentor

25. Dec 21, 2006

### EL

Yes, I guess the money you get as unemployed/ill/whatever-makes-you-need-support-from-society is counted as income in Sweden's case too. But that wasn't really my (or GT's) point here. The point is that a lot of the money coming from the taxes are not distributed directly to the unemployed/ill/wmynsfs but instead goes to other things like the free healthcare we enjoy here. Hence just looking at the income (including "state distributed income") may not be a very proper way of determining the standard of living.

It wasn't just you I was aiming for. It's a common fault. (Just like mixing us up with Switzerland.)

I'm not that sure how big difference there is compared to US. We pay about 30% income taxes, 6-25% VAT, plus that the employer has to pay an additional social fee of about 30% of what he has payed in total to his employee. What are the typical numbers in US?

If you by the "entity" mean "public sector", then you're wrong...
Roughly 70% works in the private sector in Sweden. What are the stats for US in this case?

Hey, we're not extremists here!:tongue2:
It's hard to really compare two countries politics like that, but at least I would say they are definitely closer to Clinton than Bush.

Yes, but the socialists are definitley false in identifying Sweden as socialistic.

It just don't may not. It simply isn't!

But as I said, thay are using the wrong country anyway...

Norway isn't socialistic (= "any such") either...

If they want to find a socialistic country, why can't the choose Cuba or China or something, instead of spreading lies about us!

Please don't even try to equate Sweden (or France, of Germany) with the USSR...
On one of these popular scales from 0 to 10, where USSR is a 0 and US a 10, I'd say Sweden is a 9, or maybe an 8.
But I totally agree with you it's important to not go too far with social welfare. The crisis during the 90th in Sweden was partially due to that, but mainly because of foreign speculations with the Swedish currency, as well as a new (right wing) government who didn't have the budget in balance.

We have now tightened up (well, I guess not near the US level) the welfare (and it was the former left wing government who did so), have a positive budget (!), low inflation, decreasing unemployment, low interests, and generally doing really well at the moment, so I don't think it's fare at all to view Sweden as some kind of failure.
That's why I cannot recognize myself in the wt article you provided. To me it seems to be some twisted far right wing propaganda...
(Btw, I've seen it here before, and in fact I thought you were the one bringing it up that time too...)

Last edited: Dec 21, 2006