Opinion – Measuring the ‘good’ life around the world | Pew Research Center

English: The logo of the Organisation for Econ...

English: The logo of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This short article, with excellent graphics from Pew Research is a must read. Pew looks at the question, ‘What makes a good life’? They argue that usually this question is in the domain of priests, philosophers and metaphysicians, but it cites the OECD who sought to find the answers with data.

Source: Measuring the ‘good’ life around the world | Pew Research Center

If you examine the article and look at the data, you will no doubt wonder why your country is better or worse than some other benchmark.

But of course, the metadata glosses over the detail. For example, the US ranks highly as a nation but this distorts the relative ‘good’ life of working class and middle class Americans, compared to the priviliged top-earners. I sense that if we looked at the data over time, then America’s middle and working classes would not relate to the ‘good’ life cited?


Opinion – USA – Chartbook of Economic Inequality – Max Roser

Income inequality and mortality in 282 metropo...

Income inequality and mortality in 282 metropolitan areas of the United States. Mortality is correlated with both income and inequality. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oxford researcher, Max Roser, presents stunningly clear graphical data on trends in inequality. Today, I’m focusing on the US where the charts present powerful evidence of increasing US inequality.

Source: USA – Chartbook of Economic Inequality

The main highlights include:

  1. Top decile of earnings has risen from 150 per cent of median in 1950 to 244 per cent in 2012.
  2. Gini coefficient for gross income now 7 percentage points higher than in 1980.
  3. From 1929 to 1945 overall inequality fell for a sustained period
  4. Official poverty measure fell from 1948 to 1970s, since then cyclical variation about constant level.
  5. Top gross income shares fell from 1928 to the 1970s; since mid-1970s have more than doubled.
  6. Wealth shares generally decreased till 1982 but have not followed the upward trend in top incomes.

The data for above website have been compiled by Anthony B Atkinson and Salvatore Morelli and are published as Atkinson and Morelli (2014). The online version of the Chartbook and the online data visualisations have been designed and constructed by Max Roser. The authors acknowledge support from the following institutions: Programme for Economic Modelling · Institute for New Economic Thinking – Oxford · Oxford Martin School

The authors explain their measures of income inequality.

It is interesting to reflect on the implications. Most people would cite the loss of traditional jobs, with man’s output increasingly being replaced by machines and jobs being offshored to low cost countries. BUT this needs to be considered against recent research from the IMF that better educational attainment and greater investment in R&D is significant in US states achieving higher Total Factor Productivity.

Of course, the other correlation is with President Obama’s period in office. Obama has failed to look after the interests of the working and middle classes effectively.