Will The Real 99% Stand Up?

Oct 9 2011 @ 8:35pm

Screen shot 2011-10-06 at 4.23.02 PM
Taylor Marvin checks the math of the above image, which has been making the rounds:

Is this true? Is the income of the bottom 99% of US citizens in the top 1% of world income? Short answer: maybe. From the World Bank, World Development Indicators dataset, in 2009 per capita US income was $45,989, compared to a world average of $8,599. Plugging this into the Global Rich List income comparison tool tell us that the average American falls into the top 1.43% of humanity, suggesting that the 99 Percent graphic’s claim is just off. However, there are a lot of problems with this comparison. For example, the average US income provided by the World Bank is given in GDP per capita. This is problematic for a few reasons. First, it includes the income of the top 1%, which we’re not interested in and in the US is high enough to significantly skew this figure. Similarly, GDP per capita is an averaged measure — while this is often the best income measure economists can get, it doesn’t account for inequality.