Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Is the US Becoming a Third World Country?

The simplest way to say whether a country is rich or poor is to add up its cumulative wealth, which is usually stated in terms of GDP. Sometimes this number is divided by the number of people in a country to say what the average wealth is: GDP per capita. And for a lot of purposes, including the overall economic strength of a country in an international context, that's a useful definition of wealth. But it's not a sufficient criterion for determining whether a society is wealthy. For instance, it's theoretically possible that a country could have a larger per capita GDP than any other country on the planet, but also for all that wealth to be controlled by a single autocratic leader to whom everyone else is enslaved. In the crudest economic terms, that society could be considered wealthy, even though all but one person would be utterly impoverished. So to determine whether a society is truly wealthy, some account needs to be taken of the distribution of wealth.

Here's a map I made of income inequality in the US.



This map is based on numbers from the US census (pdf). It uses the Gini index to measure income inequality. Gini
indicates how much the income distribution differs from a proportionate distribution (one where everyone would have the same income; for example, 20 percent of the population would hold 20 percent of the income, 40 percent of the population would hold 40 percent of the income, etc.). The Gini index varies from 0 to 1, where 0 indicates perfect equality (a proportional distribution of income), and 1 indicates perfect inequality (where one person has all the income and no one else has any).
So the higher the number, the more wealth inequality there is. For most advanced industrial economies, the Gini number is pretty low. According the the CIA World Factbook (table compiled here), the lowest Gini score in the world is Sweden's, at .23, followed by Denmark and Slovenia at .24. The next 20 countries are all in either Western Europe or the former Communist bloc of Eastern Europe. The EU as a whole is at .307. Russia has the highest number in Europe (.41); Portugal is the highest in Western Europe (.38). Japan is at .381; Australia is .352; Canada is .321.

And then there is the United States, sandwiched between Cote d'Ivoire and Uruguay at .450. Not counting Hong Kong (.523), the US is a complete loner among developed countries. In fact, as you can see from the map above, there is no overlap between any single US state and any other developed country; no state is within the normal range of income distribution in the rest of the developed world. Here's a list of the states with their Gini index numbers, and the country where income distribution is most comparable in parentheses:

Alabama - .472 (Nepal)
Alaska - .417 (Cambodia)
Arizona - .454 (Jamaica)
Arkansas - .460 (Ecuador)
California - .466 (Rwanda)
Colorado - .450 (Uruguay)
Connecticut - .480 (Venezuela)
Delaware - .434 (Guyana)
District of Columbia - .537 (Honduras)
Florida - .467 (Rwanda)
Georgia - .461 (Mexico)
Hawaii - .438 (Nigeria)
Idaho - .421 (Thailand)
Illinois - .462 (Malaysia)
Indiana - .432 (Guyana)
Iowa - .424 (Burundi)
Kansas - .441 (Kenya)
Kentucky - .460 (Ecuador)
Louisiana - .475 (Madagascar)
Maine - .428 (Singapore)
Maryland - .433 (Guyana)
Massachusetts - .461 (Mexico)
Michigan - .444 (Philippines)
Minnesota - .430 (Iran)
Mississippi - .471 (Nepal)
Missouri - .449 (Cote d'Ivoire)
Montana - .426 (Singapore)
Nebraska - .430 (Iran)
Nevada - .434 (Turkey)
New Hampshire - .417 (Cambodia)
New Jersey - .458 (Uganda)
New Mexico - .457 (Uganda)
New York - .495 (Costa Rica)
North Carolina - .458 (Uganda)
North Dakota - .434 (Guyana)
Ohio - .449 (Cote d'Ivoire)
Oklahoma - .460 (Ecuador)
Oregon - .444 (Kenya)
Pennsylvania - .455 (Jamaica)
Rhode Island - .442 (Philippines)
South Carolina - .462 (Mexico)
South Dakota - .439 (Nigeria)
Tennessee - .468 (Rwanda)
Texas - .474 (Mozambique)
Utah - .410 (Russia)
Vermont - .420 (Thailand)
Virginia - .456 (Uganda)
Washington - .443 (Kenya)
West Virginia - .447 (Cameroon)
Wisconsin - .424 (Burundi)
Wyoming - .413 (Senegal)

Obviously, the US is far wealthier than any of the countries to which states are being compared on this list; but it's striking to see the US fit a pattern which, outside of the US, is exclusively a phenomenon of the underdeveloped world.

But does that mean that the US is on the road to Third World-dom? Well, not necessarily - and not yet, at least. But it should give some context to comparisons of wealth between societies. For instance, the GDP per capita in the US is one of the highest in the world. But more of that wealth is concentrated in the hands of relatively few people, meaning fewer people (relative to that high per capita GDP) are well-off.

Matt Yglesias posted this chart the other day:

So even though a lot of wealth has been created since the 1970s, the typical family isn't much better off. And as Yglesias points out: "Another country with a lower GDP but less inequality could still be a country in which most people are richer than most Americans, and I believe there’s pretty compelling evidence that that’s now the case in a number of European countries."

I would add this: to the extent that wealth matters, it's because wealth increases the well-being of individuals. But there's undeniably a law of diminishing returns: a billionaire is not going to be a thousand times happier than a millionaire just because he has a thousand times as much money. In fact, I would argue that beyond some modest threshold - maybe below an income of $100,000/year - having more money simply doesn't affect one's well-being in any significant way. People certainly desire more wealth, mainly as a positional good - a billionaire has a higher status than a millionaire. But jockeying for positional goods is a zero-sum game; the billionaire's gain is the millionaire's loss, and so overall well-being is not increased by creating more wealth if that wealth just ends up getting shuttled up the income ladder into those stratospheric heights. In other words, if a country becomes wealthier because rich people are getting richer while everyone else treads water, that country is no better off than it was before. And if that's the case for a given country while more wealth is being created in other countries where it isn't being concentrated solely in the hands of the very rich, then that country's well-being, relative to other countries, decreases. That's what's been going on in the US for the last few decades. It's a sign of decline.

But not an irreversible one; the US doesn't have to become a third world country, where the majority of the population struggles to take care of basic needs while a minority controls a huge proportion of the nation's wealth. And an economic crisis, in large part brought about by wealthy elites mishandling their economic power, might be just the thing to start turning the trend around.

721 comments:

1 – 200 of 721   Newer›   Newest»
K H D and sometimes T said...

great post, great map. Not to give you more work, but a comparitive map of Europe would be awesome. When the data is visual it is so powerful.

Also, There was a study not long ago on "happiness", that well-being factor, and the correlation with wealth - if i recall - was very slim. So, yea. all those rich folk should really be sharing with me - i think they'll be happier

dp said...

This is very interesting reading, but I'm confused by the way this part is written, and may miss the crux of your story because of it:

"In fact, as you can see from the map above, there is no overlap between any single US state and any other developed country; no state is within the normal range of income distribution in the rest of the developed world. Here's a list of the states with their Gini index numbers, and the country where income distribution is most comparable in parentheses."

Can you rewrite that in a more straightforward way?

Anonymous said...

There may be some factors here that you are ignoring like immigration policies. The US has been pretty permissive about letting in large numbers of poorly educated immigrants from places like Mexico and Central America. Most of these other countries put a lot more barriers to immigration and generally screen immigrants better to insure higher levels of educational attainment in the immigrant population, like what Canada does.
http://www.workpermit.com/canada/points_calculator.htm

The US is unique in letting in a large group of people significantly less educated and less skilled than the native born population.

Do 17% of the students in Sweden have at least one parent who is an illegal immigrant?

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/How-Many-Are-Here-Illegally.html

Second how do the real incomes of the people in the bottom third of both countries compare in terms of income?

If the bottom third in the US are still wealthier in the US than the bottom third in Sweden, who cares if Bill Gates and Warren Buffet manage to live in the US as well?

Without answering that issue, the Gini statistic isn't very useful by itself.

Chachy said...

Anon - I'm not "ignoring" factors like immigration; I'm just not trying to explain inequality in the US at all. The purpose of the post is to point out a phenomenon.

And I agree: "If the bottom third in the US are still wealthier in the US than the bottom third in Sweden, who cares if Bill Gates and Warren Buffet manage to live in the US as well." However, the bottom third in the US are very clearly not as well off as the bottom third of Swedes, which is why this is a salient issue. I can't find the relevant data for the bottom third, but based on the CIA page, the botttom 10% of Swedes earn 3.6% of national income which, given their per capita GDP of about $38,000, would work out to $13,860 per person in the bottom tenth. For the US, the relevant figures are $47000 and 2%, which would work out to an average of $9,400 for people in the bottom tenth. (That's in purchasing power parity (PPP) numbers, so it's already adjusted for cost of living.) Of course, that doesn't even count the vastly better access to health care the lowest 10% have in Sweden vs. the US.

DP - That just means that every single US state has a more unequal income distribution than every single wealthy country (other than the US, of course). The countries in parentheses have the most similar Gini index of any country in the world to the US state they're paired to. Does that make sense?

MC - Europe, eh? That sounds doable...

Ben said...

Thanks for the post. Really cool maps and really interesting read.

Anonymous said...

Do that same analysis of Denmark. In Denmark average income is $37,400 and the bottom 10% of the population capture 2% of the nations wealth. In short the per capita income in Denmark for the bottom 10% would work out to being $7400 under your analysis substanitally less than the $9400 earned by the bottom 10% in the US.

The other thing these stats miss is effects transfer payments. In the US if you are making $9400, you can qualify for subsidized housing (section 8), you can qualify for state provided healthcare (medi-cal/medicare) you have access subisidized lunch programs, AFDC etc. You may also qualify SSI or SSDI.

While you qualify for the program based upon an earned income of 9400, the purchasing power of these individuals is substantially greater than their earned incomes.

I am sure that Denmark, Sweden and Slovenia also have substantial income transfer programs. But purchasing power after income transfer programs is probably significantly higher than these stats would suggest.

Chachy said...

Anon - looks like you're right about Denmark. That seems hard to square with their very low Gini number; I'm not sure what to make of that. But note this from the World Factbook: "Nations use different standards and procedures in collecting and adjusting the data. Surveys based on income will normally show a more unequal distribution than surveys based on consumption. The quality of surveys is improving with time, yet caution is still necessary in making inter-country comparisons." So it's probably not the best statistic to use for comparison. Regardless, some of the bottom-tenth income share numbers for other countries in the region are: France 3%, Germany 3.2%, Finland 3.6%, Norway 3.9%, Czech Republic 4.3%, Austria 3.3%, Belgium 3.4%, UK 2.1%, Netherlands 2.5%, Switzerland 2.9%. For what it's worth.

As for your point about transfer payments: that's definitely a big part of the picture, especially if we're trying to quantify well-being, which is what I'm interested in. But Europe's welfare states - especially its health care services - are famously much more robust than their US counterpart, so the US would be sure to come out looking worse by comparison if that data were included. (One exception might be for people over 65, who benefit in the US from Social Security and Medicare.)

Anonymous said...

Some notes: (a) The Gini coefficient measures income inequality as opposed to wealth inequality. You seem to mix and match the terms in the post. (b) What constitutes income varies by country. Some countries include government benefits as income and others, like the U.S., do not.

Chachy said...

Thanks, anon. I'm no economist, so I'm undoubtedly using the language a little fuzzily.

As for the definition of 'income' varying by country: is that reflected in the actual Gini calculation? Or is the Gini number derived from some independent evaluation of income that uses consistent criteria?

Anonymous said...

This propaganda blurb freezes a moment in time and shows a fairly rosy picture. In reality the stats are changing as we speak, during this great republican depression, and showing that fact, as we approach third-worlddom in Detroit City is as hard as catching a falling knife! America has lost all of its manufacturing to Asia, now that manufacturing can be done by 89 pound peasant women eating rice for lunch, and no longer requires a Steel-Workers brawn and mentality to endure, nor his Union demands! The world of manufacturing has changed, and America is stuck with hand bred totally committed, completely conditioned, highly skilled workers for and age gone by, and face a new manufacturing expertise from Asia, that outstrips anything they ever had in their wildest dreams about factories and how they are operated, Wake up America, times have changed, and so must you, just to compete! Welcome to the 21st Century, the age of hydraulic assisance, computer controls and automation on grand scale, and obsoleting everything preceding it, including bulgy well muscled He-man workers, work done mostly by skinny, cheap to feed 98 pound weakling yellow ladies that think as fast as a computer and keep on going like the Duracell Bunny!

Anonymous said...

The United States has been in Decline since the mid-1970's when soon after our Oil production peaked and Germany along with Japan caught up to us Economically and Technically we nolonger were the head dogs and so our standards started their long decline which has accelerated rapidly over the past 8 years with the Disasterous Government we have had along with the Citizens which have become dumbed-down sheeple.
The Euro Dollar is now Around $1.40
to the US Dollar. When first went to Germany in 2000 the US DOllar would fetch $1.67 to the D-mark so if the Euro now is $1.40 that is a 108% increase in the European Standard of living since the money one uses is only has good as the buying buyer it produces-108% in 8 years!
Going back further the German, Swiss, Japanese Currencies in the early 1970's were worth 4 times less, 1 US dollar in 1970 could buy 4 Japanese Yen, 4 Deutchmarks or 4 Swiss Francs. Now the Yen and Euro are worth more then the US Dollar with many other Curriences gaining meaning we have lost 400% of our buying power versus Germany or Germany has gained 400% buying power versus the US and this has happened with a host of countries.
Germany is the World's Largest Exporter, Second Largest Creditor Nation after Japan and have modernized their country far ahead of the USA on average(Infrustructure)
German Citizens receive Free College Tuition, Free Healthcare, 50 Days a year off including Vacation and State Holidays,Extensive Welfare Safety Nets which covers housing, Food , Education, Healthcare,etc.
German Wages are higher on average then US wages and the benefits are wonderful compared to US benefits or non-existing benefits.
The US gini-index is approaching 50
now and some states areas in the USA have already passed that mark.
WE have less people in the workforce now then 10 years ago and we continue to lose jobs-make no mistake this is a Depression and we are 25 million jobs short of population compared to 1999.
The Top paying Countries in th World are Switzerland, Hong Kong, Germany, Austria, Japan, Ireland, Australia and Spain. THis is including Taxes and Cost of living.
If you include benefits the Gap with the US widens further in countries such as Denmark which have high taxes but the benefits are the best in the world along with the Norway, Finland and Sweden even if the buying power is less. With Wages and Benefits counted Together and the cost of living also counted the USA does not even come in the top 20(Mercer Report 2006)
The Average US Citizens also is ranked 47th in Life Expectency Compared to other countries in the world we were in the top 5 in 1981.
The US has 40% of the World's Correctional Population(Prison, Parole, Jail, Probation,etc) which adds up to 8 million people.
The USA is the only country in the among the Developed Nations to use the Death Penalty.
The US Infrustructure is falling apart(AMerican Society of Engineers)and our Schools rank at the bottom when compared to other advanced Nations.
Many of the Student who attend our Universities are Foreign, they gain KNowledge and go back to their home countries. OUr HIgher University System is the most unaffordable in the world and unlike Germany we do not have much of a Vocational/Technical Training School System.
The US is 60 Trillion in Debt(State, Federal Government, Trade, Corporate and Consumer) and this is rising at an annual rate of 3-4 trillion Dollars.
In 2008 it to 16 dollars of debt to make 1 dollar of Profit in the USA-We are in Freefall and the Foreign Entites are using these debt dollars to buy the Entire Country up making this into a Colony of sorts. NeoColonialism?
Germany has less Government Debt then the USA, Had huge Current Account Surpluses, Powerful Corporations that are not Folding.
and do you know what that means when they are all working together-the Government, Corporation, Bankers for their own benefits and power grabs?
It's Fascism by definition!

Tim Worstall said...

I see the mistake you've made here. Don't worry, it's a very common one.

These US numbers are a slight modification of market income (it's market income plus cash welfare benefits).

Denmark, Sweden etc are market income after taxation and after all benefits (ie, welfare transfers etc) are included.

These are very different numbers.

The US numbers here do not take account of the income tax system, housing vouchers, Medicaid, food stamps or the EITC. The Danish and Swedish numbers do include their equivalents.

If you look at the pure market income numbers for Sweden (just as an example) then the Gini there is about the same as it is for the whole US: about .45 or so.

We really cannot look at inequality in two countries and compare inequality in one after all the things we do to reduce inequality and compare it to inequality in another before all the things we do to compare it.

Simply not going to get useful information that way.

Anonymous said...

Here's the difference between the United States and the rest of the developed world: a lot more unproductive residents. What do I mean by that? This: while white and Asian Americans perform well in school and in other social indicators, the other three main demographic groups (Hispanics, blacks and Native Americans) perform far worse educationally and (not surprisingly) in other social indicators. We'll call the first two groups "productive productive" and the other three "unproductive residents." Areas dominated by the latter group (e.g. Detroit, South Texas, Gary, East St. Louis, Miami, the Bronx, Indian reservations) tend to be extremely poor, have high crime rates, poor schools, and a generally poor sense of community. On the other hand, those dominated by productive citizens tend to do well in those areas.

(Now to be clear, there are certainly SOME very productive Hispanic, black and Native American people, but on the whole they provide less to society than whites and Asians, and are more of a drain on it.)

Pretty much every developed country has its productive and unproductive residents; in France, Arabs fall into the latter category, while in Britain they are Pakistanis, and in Germany they are Turks. But in most other countries, the proportion of unproductive residents is low - generally single-digits. In the United States, 29% of the population is Hispanic, black or Native American. Is it a wonder we're more unequal, with so many unproductive people? In California, those three groups make up about 45% of the population. Any surprise that the state has ceased to be functional?

ludovic said...

notwithstanding the previous comment's white supremacist slant, you've made a typical but important mistake--your first paragraph talks about wealth, which is the crucial economic parameter. however, all your maps focus on income inequality.

to learn more about wealth inequality go to www.racialwealthgap.org.

Clint said...

The way I see it, the major problem the US have right now, is that since the 70s almost all of the working class work have moved overseas. That means that as a middle class family that have traditionally worked in factories there is no work to find.
The new jobs have been created in new industries like we see in the Silicon Valley.
Problem is, that those new industries require highly educated employees. And the American educational system is virtually impossible to get into if you are not well off in the first place.

So all the sons and daughters of the factory workers from Detroit are now caught in the middle. There are no more jobs for the uneducated, and no way of getting an education.

I am from Denmark, and here education is free. Even goingto the university. Actually you get an education subsidy when you go to school.
That means that all the sons and daughters of our shipyards and steelworks that closed in the 80s and 90s are now educated and working.

amy said...

Interesting ready. Very good comparition of the Gini index of the country.

Anonymous said...

Singapore IS part of the "developed world". Their income inequality may be great, but if you go there, it looks basically like the U.S., and their health care system is ranked higher than ours.

DLM said...

Very nice blog you guys, the initial map was interesting, just what I was looking for. The initial conversation was very good too. There were possible shortcomings pointed out but nobody took it personally, and there were no attack comments, as I've seen on other blogs. I've read the comments twice now to try to follow the reasoning, and it's something to think about.

Congratulations Chachy on starting some interesting work and conversation.

I've been trying to take something like this a step further by using the additive inverse of the Gini coefficient as a multiplier on the GDP per capita figure and then ranking the countries and then mixing in the same figure for the states. I get some interesting and reasonable numbers, now I just don't know what insight, if ahy, they give.

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Anonymous said...

The only job Growth in the USA over the past 10 years is Healthcare which is now slowing up because the Government cannot afford the skyrocketing Healthcare costs.
Construction, Professional Services, Manufacturing, Transportation jobs,Leisure/entertainment jobs,etc. have all lost and continue to lose jobs monthly.
The USA is about 25-30 million jobs short where it should be and the safety nets that some say are so robust here in the states is a joke, we have homeless camps scattered around Florida so that is B..ll...sh....t!
Don't try to compare the Welfare Safety nets here in the states to Europe's you are deluding yourself!
I have already commented on some of the benefits in my prior comments so why repeat them?
Someone working in Walmart making $6.00 an hour take-home per hour and no benefits is not First world and whoever here that responds stating they are never really had to live this way! When the worst off in Germany on Welfare make about $1200.00 U.S. dollars monthly plus free Healthcare/Dental and Free College Tuition/Technical training if they chose it should come to no surprise that Germany has higher standards. We here in the states do not have a bottom or minimum standard really you could end up homeless, in prison, fighting in some foreign war, dying from lack of healthcare,etc. This is just the facts of life and it really pisses me off to those who want to just brush so many Americans under the carpet or throw them away like garbage in a trash can. Is this what America is about now?
And why is that Euro $1.50 to the Dollar even though the rich can do whatever they like here in the states or could it be because we let the Rich do what they want it has just about destroyed the country.
Anyway you slice it Europe Exports twice as much as America-Merchandise and Services which is an Indicator of Success, if you export a total of 2.7 trillion dollars a year to other parts of the world that is Success and no one can deny this. Europe also has the world's best Infrastructure and trained workforces.
This is the way it is and for those here who would enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else-destroying their lives I have one comment.
I usually do not believe in the Death Penalty but for those who would destroy so many lives in so many different ways perhaps they would deserve it since they want to act like f...k...ing animals.

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Pedro Cardoso said...

Excellent post, I was just trying to figure out why are European and US standards so different.

I'm Portuguese (the most underdeveloped country in Western Europe), have lived in Denmark (one of the most developed countries in the World) and now live in the US. And the fact is, by European standards, the US are relatively underdeveloped.

I think this is because development has different meanings in different countries. For an European it is unthinkable not having universal free health care. It is unthinkable not having free Universities. For an American it is unthinkable not having a big large car and a big large house. Different priorities, different uses for the word development...

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Anonymous said...

Many People in the USA do have different values then Europeans this is true and probably always has been true but for a period of our History so Europeans Immigrated to the USA from the late 1880's to 1920's and then again in the 1950's early 1960's they brought with them much know-how both Technically and Socially that influenced the US and made it much more European. Yes the USA was a European Construct since the beginning but over the past 40 years or so not nearly as many Europeans have immigrated because Europe became a much Richer, more egalitarian/Progressive Society after World War 2 while the USA has been in decline because of very bad decisions. The Elites here never were very progressive and the way they treated the Africans, Natives and Poor Whites should be an indicator that we have slid back towards the 1800's in Mind Set where you have just Rich and Poor which really is a Slave Society or Dictatorship. The Wider the Rich/poor Gap becomes then the less Rights/Freedoms a Society will have this is just a fact.
Also America's Economy is very weak with Huge Trade Debts, Government Debts, Consumer Debts, Corporate Debts, etc and the people have little or no savings so the country is in a bad place along with the Evil leaders we have which is why we are in a bad place to begin with!! Someone working as a Temporary worker or Part time worker or working at Walmart or the underground economy or not working at all are not going to be buying those big houses and cars you speak of. The houses you see are from when America was the richest and also the top 3% here have so much money they can afford to buy luxury. If anything has been learned since 2008 about America most people cannot even afford houses or the majority cannot really afford a house without taking risks as the real estate collapse showed. Millions and Millions have people have lost their homes and continue too, the situation is not better.
If you are in the Top 20% here which is the Middle Class and Rich then you can still afford to buy nice things and live Great lives but the bottom 80% is in deep trouble and many of these people do not live First World Standards not even having basic Civil Rights, Healthcare, Education ,etc.
The USA is descending into Third World, probably 50-60 Million Americans could be classified Third World by German Standards for example while another 150++ Million Americans are working Class or Second World if I may use this term while the rest are First World so the Majority of USA Citizens are not living a First World Standard/Quality of life and even if you are in the USA you can lose your place very easily ending up Poor through Sickness, Lawsuits and lack of other safety nets.
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That just means that every single US state has a more unequal income distribution than every single wealthy country (other than the US, of course). The countries in parentheses have the most similar Gini index of any country in the world to the US state they're paired to. Does that make sense?

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The Top 1% are the Rich which the Next 9% could be Considered in Middle Class while the bottom 90% are losing big time or have already lost just about everything.
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Would you grant permission to post that map on the new wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_Gini_coefficient_of_income_inequality ?

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Thanks, anon. I'm no economist, so I'm undoubtedly using the language a little fuzzily.

As for the definition of 'income' varying by country: is that reflected in the actual Gini calculation? Or is the Gini number derived from some independent evaluation of income that uses consistent criteria?
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Now conservatives are becoming concerned about it too. Conservatives don't mind big gaps between rich and poor, but they get worried when the middle class starts to erode, and, apparently that is happening. A satisfied middle class, or one that at least has hope for their future and the future of their kids, is essential to the capitalist system.

I saw one study done by a conservative group concluding that the US was on its way to a traditional Latin American style situation, wealthy upper class, lots of poor and not much middle class. And the GINI figures do show the US looking more like a third world country than all the other developed countries, despite its still greater wealth overall. It can't be just a matter of statistical differences.

Interestingly, these conservative researchers acknowledged the problem of income disparity but they had a different answer than progressives. They attributed the whole situation to declining middle class values. In other words, the middle class of the US is becoming poorer because they are inclined to live in sin, not accept personal responsibility, etc.

They didn't defend this notion by explaining why the middle class values supposedly haven't declined in the other develped countries.

They're answer is basically for the US middle class to smarten up and fly right in terms of their moral habits.

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United states population is expanding each and every day. This has really become a third world country but I like my united states! Its one of the best countries in the world.
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mamba2000 said...

Incorrect!

'Third world' means 70% of people being able to live on less than a dollar a day because they live in the rural areas where they grow their own food, and live in their own mud huts so in effect everything that really matters is free. Income disparities therefore counts for nothing!


However in the developed world income disparity is a serious problem because its a highly monetized society. Even when the weather is good, the less advantaged will still line up for handouts or starve while their counterparts in Africa are busy planting!

Better to say the Quality of life in the US is lower than in Sweden...but no way the US a third world country or even going there.

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Great post, great map. Not to give you more work, but a comparitive map of Europe would be awesome. When the data is visual it is so powerful.

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Anonymous said...

I think these comparisons make sense, and it's a sad thing. Yeah, thanks, U.S. GOP... Let's throw the whole country's middle class under the bus so you can get more money from the corporate fatcats.


I also think someone needs to clean up the comments section and remove all the stupid advertising, "special" online offers, and other detrius. It's incredibly demeaning to the article's salient points.

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