Standard of living in the United States

The standard of living in the United States is one of the top 20 in the world by the standards economists use as measures of standards of living. Per capita income is high but also less evenly distributed than in most other developed countries; as a result, the United States fares particularly well in measures of average material well being that do not place weight on equality aspects.

On comprehensive measures such as the UN Human Development Index the United States is always in the top twenty, currently ranking 12th. On the Human Poverty Index the United States ranked 16th, one rank below the United Kingdom and one rank above Ireland.cite web|url=http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/2003/indicator/pdf/hdr03_table_4.pdf|title=Human Poverty Index|accessdate=2007-02-14] On the Economist's quality-of-life index the United States ranked 13th, in between Finland and Canada, scoring 7.6 out of a possible 10. The highest given score of 8.3 was applied to Ireland. This particular index takes into account a variety of socio-economic variables including GDP per capita, life expectancy, political stability, family life, community life, gender equality, and job security.cite web|url=http://www.economist.com/media/pdf/QUALITY_OF_LIFE.pdf|title=Economist, quality of life index|accessdate=2007-02-14]

The homeownership rate is relatively high compared to other post-industrial nations. In 2005, 69% of Americans resided in their own homes, roughly the same percentage as in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Israel and Canada. cite web|url=http://www.cbs.gov.il/publications/expenditure_survey05/pdf/t16.pdf|title=OWNED DWELLINGS, Israel|accessdate=2007-04-17] cite web|url=http://realtytimes.com/rtcpages/20050310_canmarket.htm|title=Home Ownership Rate Soars in Canada|accessdate=2007-04-17] Residents of the United States also enjoy a high access to consumer goods. Americans enjoy more radios per capita than any other nation cite web|url=http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/med_rad_percap-media-radios-per-capita|title=Median radios per capita|accessdate=2007-02-15] and more televisions and personal computers per capita than any other large nation.cite web|url=http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/med_tel_percap-media-televisions-per-capita|title=Median TVs per capita|accessdate=2007-02-15] cite web|url=http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/med_per_com_percap-media-personal-computers-per-capita|title=Median PCs per capita|accessdate=2007-02-15]

The median income is $43,318 per household ($26,000 per household member)cite web|url=http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/income_wealth/002484.html|title=US Census Bureau news release in regards to median income|accessdate=2006-06-29] with 42% of households having two income earners.cite web|url=http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/hhinc/new05_000.htm|title=US Census Bureau, income quintile and top 5% household income distribution and demographic characteristics, 2006|accessdate=2006-12-28] Meanwhile, the median income of the average American age 25+ was roughly $32,000cite web|url=http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/perinc/new03_001.htm|title=US Census Bureau, personal income distribution, age 25+, 2006|accessdate=2006-12-28] ($39,000 if only counting those employed full-time between the ages of 25 to 64) in 2005.cite web|url=http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/perinc/new03_028.htm|title=US Census Bureau, income distribution of individuals, employed full-time, year round, age 25-64, 2006|accessdate=2006-12-27] According to the CIA the gini index which measures income inequality (the higher the less equal the income distribution) was clocked at 45.0 in 2005, compared to 32.0 in the European Unioncite web|url=https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ee.html#Econ|title=CIA factbook, EU gini index|accessdate=2007-01-04] and 28.3 in Germany.cite web|url=https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gm.html#Econ|title=CIA factbook, Germany gini index|accessdate=2007-01-04]

cquote
The US has... a per capita GDP [PPP] of $42,000... The [recent] onrush of technology largely explains the gradual development of a "two-tier labor market"... Since 1975, practically all the gains in household income have gone to the top 20% of households... The rise in GDP in 2004 and 2005 was undergirded by substantial gains in labor productivity... Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade and budget deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups. -CIA factbook on the US economy, 2005.cite web|url=https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html#Econ|title=CIA factbook, US gini index|accessdate=2007-01-04]

The United States has one of the widest rich-poor gaps of any high-income nation today, and that gap continues to grow.cite web|url=http://www.worldwatch.org/node/82|title=Rich-Poor Gap Widening|accessdate=2006-07-27] In recent times, some prominent economists including Alan Greenspan have warned that the widening rich-poor gap in the U.S. population is a problem that could undermine and destabilize the country's economy and standard of living.cite web|url=http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0614/p01s03-usec.html|title=Rich-poor gap gaining attention|accessdate=2006-07-27]

Median Wages have been on the decline in the United States since 1974. In 2004, the median income for a man in his 30s was $35,010. Adjusted for inflation, that's 12 percent less than what men the same age were making in 1974. [http://abcnews.go.com/Business/LifeStages/story?id=3213731]

International household income comparison

Median household income for other countries is shown in the table below. The data for each country has been converted to US dollars using Purchasing Power Parity (obtained from the OECD).cite web|url=http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/61/56/1876133.xls|title=OECD, PPP conversion rates|accessdate=2006-01-20]

ocial class

Standard of living in the United States varies considerably with socio-economic status. The table below gives a summarization of prominent academic theories on the socio-economic stratification of the United States:

ee also

* Affluence in the United States
* Personal income in the United States
* Household income in the United States
* Economy of the United States
* Human Development Index
* Gross domestic product
* Federal assistance in the United States
* Male-female income disparity in the USA
* Social class in the United States

References


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