NEW: income inequality in US & UK is so wide that while the richest are very well off, the poorest have a worse standard of living than the poorest in countries like Slovenia…

Essentially, US & UK are poor societies with some very rich people.

A thread:
In most developed countries, the distribution of income is ~relatively~ equal, with top 10% earning about 3x as much as bottom 10%.

That means the same *relative* standard of living broadly persists across the income distribution.
That looks like this:

Norway’s richest have some of highest living standards of rich people in any country, while Norway’s poorest also fare better than poor people anywhere.

French, Dutch, Austrians, Germans etc also all rank among best living standards whether rich or poor.
But the income distributions in the UK and particularly the US are much less equal. In the UK, the top 10% earn almost 5x the bottom, and in the US it’s more than 6x.

That creates a steep gradient from top to bottom.
So instead of those lines being near the top from the poorest to the richest, they’re nice and high for the rich, but much lower for the poor.

Brits and Americans in the bottom 10% have a *far* lower standard of living than the poor in the average developed country.
The result is that while high-earners in US & UK continue to be very comfortably well off, the poorest in those same societies — perhaps in the very next neighbourhood — are scraping by with living standards that the poor in much less wealthy countries would consider rough.
In other words: the reason the poorest Americans are so poor is the exceptionally steep inequality gradient, not a lack of overall prosperity.

There’s plenty of 💰 to go around, but too much is going to those at the top, while the safety net at the bottom is totally inadequate.
...which brings me back to my initial claim, that Britain and the US are poor societies with some very rich people.

You can become very rich in loads of countries! The real benchmark for whether a country is a good place to live is what the bottom of the distribution looks like.
In Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, France, Germany (you get the idea), you can afford somewhere between a decent and an amazing standard of living whether you’re among poorest or richest.

In the S & UK, life is great if you’re rich, but awful if you’re poor.
And none of this is to say that reducing inequality should come at the expense of economic growth. There is no trade-off here. As you can see from the charts, general economic performance and average living standards are higher in several of these more equal countries than the US
Transpose the inequality gradient from countries like Germany, France or the Netherlands onto the US, and you would instantly lift living standards for the US poor by 💸40%💸, up to among the highest in the world.

And the richest Americans would remain among the world’s richest!
So please have a read of the full story, which includes an interactive version of these charts where you can compare your own set of countries…
And just to pre-empt some "yes but Norway has loads of oil wealth!" responses, that’s not the point. The point is Norwegian living standards relative to other countries are the same right across the distribution. As they are in most other countries. But not the US or UK.
Oh, and I almost forgot: here is a custom version with Ireland highlighted, to appease the great and powerful @davidmcw 🙏🙇

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More from @jburnmurdoch

Sep 9
Stories like these are so valuable.

There will always be a guy who says “Women just don’t want to go into those careers. Maybe people have different preferences?”, but when you see the reality, it’s instantly clear how far from a free choice/preference the decision actually is.
Same for other under-represented groups in all sorts of domains, of course.

If you’re constantly made to feel unwelcome, your “preferences” are going to look rather different to those of the dominant group.
Oh, and you can follow her here: @astro_alexandra
Read 4 tweets
Sep 5
Lots of attention (rightly) on projections that China’s population might fall by ⚠️ roughly half ⚠️ by end of this century, but not sure people appreciate quite how widespread this dynamic is.

More than a dozen countries (most of them in Europe) are set to shrink even faster 📉
Also neatly illustrates why single-country explanations ("it’s the legacy of the one-child policy", "it’s their brutally competitive school system") are often misguided.

This is happening ~everywhere, against widely varying policies and cultures.
The impacts on economies and societies more broadly will be absolutely enormous, and having lived through centuries of broadly unceasing population growth I’m not sure (m)any of us have even half an idea what this will look and feel like.
Read 5 tweets
Aug 23
NEW: the collapse of emergency healthcare in England may be costing 500 lives every week, a close match for non-Covid excess deaths

Let’s look at how we reach that conclusion, by taking a deep-dive into non-Covid excess mortality and its possible causes…
First, the international picture

While excess deaths everywhere are far below Covid peaks, many countries are still seeing a sustained excess this summer, suggesting a common factor is causing unexpected deaths in dozens of countries.

But all may not be as it seems...
As the likes of @ActuaryByDay, @john_actuary and @ONS have demonstrated, we can do better than raw, unadjusted excess mortality.

We can use age-standardisation to adjust for the changing age structures of populations, and for which age groups our excess deaths are found in.
Read 56 tweets
Jul 5
When you stop to think about it for a minute, it's kind of insane that this is all playing out through *tweeted* resignation letters.

Seismic political change ... through the medium of tweets.
"Hang on a sec, Saj, mine's 285 characters. I need to delete a word."
Read 4 tweets
Jun 26
NEW: unfortunately it’s time for another international Covid update, as the BA.5 Omicron lineage (and BA.4 to a lesser extent) sends not only cases but also hospitalisations climbing around the world, from South Africa, to Portugal, the UK, Israel and now the US 📈
As ever, it’s instructive to look beneath the surface of the aggregate numbers to see what’s really happening.

What appear to be declining overall numbers in Spain, or a slowing of growth in the US, are actually just the BA.5 rise 📈 being partially masked by the BA.2 decline 📉
When looking at these charts, note that where once upon a time it was *relatively* useful to look at one country further along its wave to see what might happen next in another country, that’s becoming less and less the case, as each country’s immunity profile grows more distinct
Read 16 tweets
Jun 19
Guys. I think I've solved Britain's productivity puzzle.

It's the millions of person-hours lost at airport security taking liquids out of people's own transparent toiletry bags and putting them into Approved Clear Plastic Bags™️.
Coincidentally, this practice is also believed to be responsible for 83% of the infamous Pacific Garbage Patch of floating plastic waste.
Jokes aside, the staff on the baggage security belts today are absolute heroes.

Ruthlessly efficient and somehow maintaining a positive, even jokey vibe as thousands of extremely stressed travelers pile through.

Should all get double pay for operating under these conditions.
Read 4 tweets

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