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September 17, 2014

Britain Would Rank 2nd Poorest as an American State

Fraser Nelson writes in the Telegraph that “if Britain were to somehow leave the European Union and become the 51st state of America, we would actually be one of those poor states. If you take our economic output, adjust for living costs and slot it into the US league table then the United Kingdom emerges as the second-poorest state in the union. We’re poorer than much-maligned Kansas and Alabama and well below Missouri, the scene of all the unrest in recent weeks. Only Mississippi has lower economic output per head than the UK; strip out the South East and Britain would rank bottom. We certainly have our problems; we’re just better at concealing them.”

The Washington Post pulled the data into a nice scrollable chart:

  • Harold Underdown

    Of course, GDP doesn’t measure quality of life, health, security, etc…

    • Lorehead

      It’s difficult to quantify those things at all. One caveat is that, where inequality is high, GDP per capita can give a very misleading impression of how much money most people have, since most of it goes to the rich. Median income is a better comparison in that case. (Nelson addresses this in his excellent post.)

      Also, the rankings change a lot over time based on the business cycle, and the point of this is really that Britain, under its Conservative government’s austerity policies, is having a much worse recovery than America, not: Europe bad, USA good. I’ve already heard this used as a right-wing talking-point, although as usual they get it wrong, asserting that not only Britain but the rest of Europe is poorer than any U.S. state.

      The actual numbers don’t give the culture warriors much ammunition: the highest-scorers by this measure are places with a lot of oil relative to their populations. So, Alaska, Wyoming, and North Dakota are at the top of the list, but if that proves red states have the best economies, Dubai, Qatar and the UAE prove that Islamic theocracy is the path to economic success. Sitting on top of fossil fuels is a matter of luck, and red states without that luck are all poor, whereas most of the top ten are blue states with diversified economies.

      One thing that jumps out from this is not news, but: Texas is not actually an economic miracle. In fact, it’s not even in the top ten states, and behind socialist Norway, the only European country with comparable oil reserves. Its oil production massively took off in 2010, causing its rate of economic growth to spike. I lived there for two years, a while back, and it genuinely does do a lot of things right, but there are a lot of tribalists who want its oil boom to prove things about how wonderful Red America is that it simply doesn’t.

      • Donald Beachler

        It also does mot measure the distribution of income….it is much more unequal here……an average does not tell much…..

        • Lorehead

          Actually, the source, as I stated, does measure the distribution of income.

  • AmbiValent

    It would be interesting to see European regions and American states compared. There is a list, but the numbers for PPP GDP per capita don’t match, maybe because of the influence of southern and eastern European states. If one raised the Eurostat PPP number by 1/3, one would get to about the number in the chart above, but I’m not sure if “adjustments for cost of living” are correctly estimated by doing that.

    http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/1-27022014-AP/EN/1-27022014-AP-EN.PDF

  • Martin

    GDP debt Britain 69%, GDP debt USA 117 %. not sure this chart takes all things into account. 80% of statistics are lies lol

  • Patriot556

    Coddling and encouraging all those Muslim immigrants was a good call, wasn’t it Britain.

    ;)

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