Saturday, November 03, 2007

More on The U.S. Poor Getting Richer, And Being Envy of the World's Poor

More data above in the chart (click to enlarge) from Swedish think tank Timbro to support economist Walter Williams' claim that:

"Poverty in the United States, in an absolute sense, has virtually disappeared. Today, there's nothing remotely resembling poverty of yesteryear. However, if poverty is defined in the relative sense, the lowest fifth of income-earners, "poverty" will always be with us. No matter how poverty is defined, if I were an unborn spirit, condemned to a life of poverty, but God allowed me to choose which nation I wanted to be poor in, I'd choose the United States. Our poor must be the envy of the world's poor."

Note also that the same study shows that:

Percent of U.S. Poor Households Owning Washer: 65%

Percent of ALL Swedish Households Owning Washer: 72%


Percent of U.S. Poor Households Owning VCR/DVD: 78%

Percent of ALL Swedish Households With VCR/DVD: 46%


Percent of U.S. Poor Households Owning PC: 25%

Percent of ALL Swedish Households Owning PC: 29%


Percent of U.S. Poor Households With Dishwasher: 34%

Percent ALL Swedish Households With Dishwasher: 31%


Percent of U.S. Poor Households With Clothes Dryer: 56%

Percent of ALL Swedish Households With Dryer: 18%


Percent of U.S. Poor Households Owning Color TV: 97.3%

Percent of ALL Swedish Households Owning TV: 97%

Bottom Line: On many different measures, a poor household in America lives at a standard of living equal to or greater than the average household in Sweden.

13 Comments:

At 11/03/2007 7:02 PM, Anonymous holymoly said...

So, what percent of the American "poor" in the Rector and Johnson paper are low-income RETIRED PEOPLE?!?! (who are pretty freaking likely to own their own home, 2 TVs and a washer dryer)

Can you answer that, Mark? I'll be waiting.

 
At 11/03/2007 7:17 PM, Blogger HispanicPundit said...

Ahhh...now holymoly cares about proper comparisons. Go figure. ;-)

 
At 11/03/2007 7:56 PM, Anonymous holymoly said...

You can't answer because you know I'm right Robert Rector's study.

Since this data is from the American Housing Survey and the SIPP, there's no excuse for Rector to not have published the age distribution data for the bottom *income* quintile (note: retirement = low income; relatively high assets).

Here are a couple of rates I'd like to see in Rector's paper about the lowest income quintile (why not use the US poverty line, BTW?):

The graduation rate of poor children from High School, Tech School, College.

The infant mortality rate.

 
At 11/03/2007 8:04 PM, Anonymous holymoly said...

After 10 minutes of Google research, in the 1995 SIPP (hey, what do you expect for 10 minutes), there were nearly 6 times as many households with individuals age 65 and older in the lowest income quintile than in the highest income quintile.

 
At 11/03/2007 8:06 PM, Anonymous holymoly said...

While I'm following up my own posts -- let me ask this: Why did Rector focus on home "ownership" (which would include people with negative home equity these days!) instead of home equity?

The bank owns my home. Right now, I own about 400 square feet of it.

 
At 11/03/2007 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

comparison of economic mobility between USA and Sweden
http://economicliberty.net/mobility_stats.htm

good article on sweden's problem of reconciling a generous welfare state with liberal asylum laws
http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/005/271dgkju.asp

a short video concerning the issue
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrtY4TK8c98

 
At 11/03/2007 10:23 PM, Blogger HispanicPundit said...

there were nearly 6 times as many households with individuals age 65 and older in the lowest income quintile than in the highest income quintile

This may be true but you fail to mention that the United States has 33 times the population (300 million vs 9 million).

According to the CIA factbook the United States has 12.6% of its population 65 years and older and Sweden has 17.9% of its population 65 years and older - in other words, the discrepancies between the poor in the United States and the poor in Sweden would be worse in Sweden if you controlled for senior citizens.

 
At 11/03/2007 10:24 PM, Blogger HispanicPundit said...

Again, you fail to include the significant difference in immigration levels - specifically poor immigration.

Try holding on all you can holymoly, but the facts speak for themselves - when it comes to the standard of living of the poor, the United States is a far better place to live than Sweden.

 
At 11/04/2007 12:17 PM, Anonymous holymoly said...

hispanicpundit --

I am still amazed that you accuse me of making an unfair comparison between the U.S. and Sweden because of differences in immigration.

This from the person who was comparing the poor in the U.S. to the poor in Tegucigalpa. At least I'm comparing OECD countries.

Oh, and your comment about relative population size demonstrates that you *completely* failed to comprehend my point about older individuals in the lowest income quintile. The point is that it's meaningless to say how great it is to be poor in the U.S. when over 70% in the lowest decile "own" their own home. Many of those are relatively asset-wealthy retired persons.

 
At 11/04/2007 3:36 PM, Blogger HispanicPundit said...

The point is that it's meaningless to say how great it is to be poor in the U.S. when over 70% in the lowest decile "own" their own home. Many of those are relatively asset-wealthy retired persons.

As I pointed out above, Sweden has more old people...so you...never mind, there is no convincing those who refuse to be convinced.

 
At 11/04/2007 8:42 PM, Anonymous holymoly said...

"never mind, there is no convincing those who refuse to be convinced.

3:36 PM"


We finally agree!

 
At 11/14/2007 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's get past the relatively pointless argument about statistical nuance. Does anyone really dispute the central theme of the original article that the poor in the US are far better off than the poor anywhere else in the world? Is there any dispute that the severe poverty and even hunger that existed as recently as the 60's (especially for poor blacks in the South) has been virtually eliminated? LBJ's War on Poverty has been largely won - why is it bad to acknowledge that and celebrate it?

 
At 11/15/2007 3:45 PM, Anonymous holymoly said...

Anonymous:

I will grant that our poor are better off, on average, than the poor in much of the third world. I will not grant that our poor are anywhere near as well off as the "poor" of the European social democracies.

 

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