Archive for June 27th, 2011

How many of you would like to be among the top five percent of the population?

It might surprise you but most of you are already part of this lucky and wealthy minority. Don’t believe me? Well, let’s do the math.

There are some seven billion people living on this planet. Among them, only one billion enjoys living in prosperous Western countries. Thus, if you happen to be a European or North American citizen, welcome to the top 20 percent of the world. Admittedly, there are also many happy and wealthy people in developing and emerging economies. But given that breadlines in most Western countries exceed average per capita incomes in most poor nations, it is reasonable to assume that living in a rich country more or less automatically leads you to the top 20 percent. Even long-term unemployed in Germany for instance get some $13,000 per year in welfare benefits. That is more than three times China’s per capita income. Even when using purchasing power parities, things do not change much. How many Chinese suffer from lacking health care, insufficient nutrition, rudimentary accommodation, and so on? All people in Western countries regard this as subsistence level, which is guaranteed by the state.

So we can focus on the top twenty percent that live in rich Western nations.

Now, if you are more or less healthy, you are already ahead of those roughly 30 percent suffering from various health issues. Furthermore, having attentive parents, friends, and colleagues, enjoying good education and being freed of violence, fear, as well as major social and financial problems, it is truly reasonable to regard you as part of the top quarter in Western nations. This implies you being a member of the top five percent worldwide.

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