In 1984, the average U.S. household spent 16.8 percent of its annual post-tax income on food. By 2011, Americans spent only 11.2 percent. The U.S. devotes less of its income to food than any other country—half as mu ch as households in France and one-fourth of those in India.
Read more at Bloomberg Businessweek
This graph does not in any way prove that investing in education yields negative returns. It shows that a yearly wage is cheaper than the cost of a four-year degree. That stinks, but, you know, workers don’t retire at 23. They retire closer to 63 or 73. In those 40 or 50 years, college is an appreciating asset. Like a ladder to an escalator, it both gives you access to higher pay out of college and puts you on a path to rising wages that high-school-only grads are locked out of. You won’t find that in the graph.
1) Generally speaking, richer countries are happier countries (see above). But since many of these rich countries share other traits — they’re mostly democracies with strong property rights traditions, for example — some studies suggest that it’s our institutions that are making us happy, not just the wealth. More on that in a second.
2) Generally speaking, richer people are happier people. But young people and the elderly appear less influenced by having more money.
3) But money has diminishing returns — like just about everything else. Satisfaction rises with income until about $75,000 (or perhaps as high as $120,000). After that, researchers have had trouble proving that more money makes that much of a difference. Other factors — like marriage quality and health — become more relatively important than money.
Read the rest. [Image: new economics foundation]
The euro zone has Greece. The United States has Mississippi. Or Missouri.
The difference between the U.S. and Europe is that when the Greek economy “pulls a Mississippi” (or perhaps I should say, when Mississippi “pulls a Greece”), the EU and the U.S. have 180-degree opposite reactions. Over here, we calmly write checks to Mississippi in the form of Medicaid and unemployment insurance, no questions asked. Europe has no comparable “Peripheraid” for its weak peripheral states. Instead, it has chaos.
Michael Cembalest, a JP Morgan analyst, passes along another clever graph which shows fiscal transfers (don’t worry, that’s just another word for money) between the rich California-Connecticut-Illinois-New Jersey-New York quintuple and poorer states like Tennessee. If similar, seamless transfers existed in the EU, the rich north would have to send to Portugal and Greece at least an additional 30 cents for every dollar they paid in taxes, year after year after year.
When you hear commentators say, “the euro zone must begin to transition toward a fiscal union,” what they are saying, in human-speak, is that the Europe needs to be more like the United States, with balanced budget laws for its individual members and seamless fiscal transfers from the rich countries to the poor, to protect the indigent, old, and sick, no matter where they reside.
The Germans call this sort of thing “a permanent bailout.” We just call it “Missouri.”
1) U.S. Against the World: Spending vs. Life Expectancy
We spend much, much more per person than the rest of the world … but we don’t live much longer than some eastern European countries that spend much less than us. As a result, when you plot the United States against similarly advanced countries based on life expectancy and medical spending, we’re all alone on our little island.