America Is the Place To Be, Part 2

Earlier today I posted a chart showing average household income in the US vs. other developed countries. Several people understandably wanted to see this chart with median incomes instead of means, since high income inequality can artificially increase means even if middle-class families are struggling.

Unfortunately, a reliable measure of median incomes that’s consistent between countries is hard to come by. Here are a couple that I could find. The first one is from Pew Research:

According to Pew, median household income in America is 34 percent higher than the Netherlands; 36 percent higher than Germany; 38 percent higher than France; 49 percent higher than the UK; and 71 percent higher than Italy.

However, this is disposable income, which means income after taxes. This makes other countries look poorer since they have higher tax rates, but the flip side—that households get plenty of services in return for all those taxes—doesn’t get counted. This makes it a difficult metric to use. Here’s another one, based on survey data from Gallup:

According to Gallup, median household income in America is 13 percent higher than the Netherlands; 31 percent higher than Germany; 38 percent higher than the UK; and 40 percent higher than France.

However, this survey pegs the median household income in the US at $43,000 in 2010, which is far lower than Census Bureau figure (about $50,000). So how accurate is it? It’s hard to say.

So it’s tricky. At the same time, even if the absolute numbers vary quite a bit, there’s fairly broad agreement about how countries compare to each other. If you average the three different measures (OECD, Gallup, and Pew), middle-class household income in the US is higher than every other comparable country:

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate