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e PPP per-capita GNP figure is the most accurate way to measure what people want.

It doesn't measure that at all. You could have PPP per-capita GNP that looked really good if a very small group got all the benefits.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 11:29:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...would be a much better measure.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 11:30:50 AM EST
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Much better. And largely unrelated to GNP.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 11:42:54 AM EST
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You still need the GDP (both nominal and PPP) to give you an idea of how powerful the economy is internationally and domestically.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 11:59:52 AM EST
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Sure, in context. But it doesn't measure anything people care about except in a "go us!" team supporting sort of way.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 12:18:19 PM EST
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It does tell you how much raw power your economy has, which is something to keep in mind when making economic policy decisions. It's is a measure of how much you can you can do. Whether you put that power to good or bad ends is another matter.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 12:40:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree. I think if we really want to make some kind of a political statement out of it, we should be looking at the median income in PPP. More importantly, we should be looking at the deviations. If there are two people living in a country with a median income of 2 million dollars, it could still mean that one person makes a buck a year, and the other one makes 4 mil. The context is important.
Sure, people are materialistic and status-oriented. As a result, they associate happiness, peer respect, and accomplishment with how much stuff they acquire. There's nothing wrong with consumerism in my estimation. It would be silly to argue that European cultures are not consumer-driven. The larger issue here is, is that all we have out there? Is that what makes up the fabric of our societies?
Thanks!

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 12:38:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does anybody know where we might find median PPP income figures? I haven't had any luck locating them.

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
Czeslaw Milosz
by Chris Kulczycki on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 04:12:53 PM EST
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You can reconstruct the median PPP income by putting together three more easily accessible data: median nominal income, nominal GDP, and PPP GDP (the last twocan be either gross or per capita). The ratio of nominal GDP to PPP GDP gives you the conversion factor from nominal income to PPP income.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 04:30:46 PM EST
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..or just use Economist Intelligence Services :) lol

Mikhail from SF
by Tsarrio (dj_tsar@yahoo.com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 05:35:18 PM EST
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LOL indeed...

I didn't think their data were freely available, though. The country briefings are freely available, but those do not include median income.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 05:56:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
an excellent suggestion.  I wonder what the difference between the US and EU would be on this, I suspect that with the EU15 Median PPP would be higher than in the US.  

I've always wondered whether a media PPP figure is available, or even possible (seems like a huge amount of work, even if you break it out into income categories and weight it.)

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 10:29:10 PM EST
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Well, here's a picture from an article on the subject.
http://www.globalpolicy.org/socecon/inequal/2001/0426winlose.htm

There's also a bunch of stuff at http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/eco_gdp_ppp_cap that generally shows that the US and the traditional EU countries are about par, while the newer members of the EU are lower.

by asdf on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 10:07:30 AM EST
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The graph you show and the data you link are average/mean figures. We are interested in the median, i.e., the income figure that 50% have more than and 50% have less than. One would expect it to be substantially lower than the average income.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 2nd, 2005 at 10:16:04 AM EST
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That's true, but it's a separate point. GNP doesn't pretend to measure wealth distribution, it's a broad measure of the strength of an economy.

I would like to see a proposal for a set of statistics that SHOULD be used.

by asdf on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 12:41:01 PM EST
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Your point was:

But the vast majority of people, in America, in Europe, and in South Asia and Africa, want MORE STUFF. That's how they measure personal happiness. That's the sad fact, and until you figure out how to change it, the PPP per-capita GNP figure is the most accurate way to measure what people want.

GNP has very little to do with the power of "the people" to buy stuff. That is the point. It's a crap way of measuring what you suggested: Migeru suggested that, if you want to measure the ability of people to buy stuff then median income, PPP adjusted, is a good metric.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 31st, 2005 at 12:56:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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