October 19, 2017

US Racial Income Inequality compared to other countries

US Income Per Capita by Race in 2015:

Race Income Per Capita Conversion to GDP (PPP)
All US 30,240 57,436
“Asian” 34,399 65,358
“White” 32,910 62,529
Pacific Islander 21,168 40,219
Black 20,277 38,526
Amerindian 18,085 34,362
Other 16,580 31,502

The “conversion to GDP” is based on nothing more than the IMF’s estimate for US per capita GDP compared to the per capita income for the whole United States. That multiplier is 1.9. So I just multiplied the incomes for each racial group for a quick and dirty estimate for each group’s “GDP”.

It doesn’t break out hispanic and non-hispanic whites. Based on self-report, so the “white” could be a representative genetic category of people 50+% European, or could include majority amerindian hispanics. And as always, “Asian” is meaninglessly vague.

So here are those numbers plotted on a list with all the countries the IMF did an estimate of down to Poland:

Country Per Capita GDP (PPP)
Qatar 127,660
Luxembourg 104,003
Macau 95,151
Singapore 87,855
Brunei 76,844
Kuwait 71,887
Norway 69,249
Ireland 69,231
United Arab Emirates 67,871
US “Asians” 65,358
US “Whites” 62,529
Switzerland 59,561
San Marino 59,058
Hong Kong 58,322
United States 57,436
Saudi Arabia 55,158
Netherlands 51,049
Bahrain 50,704
Sweden 49,836
Iceland 49,136
Australia 48,889
Germany 48,111
Taiwan 48,095
Austria 48,005
Denmark 47,985
Oman 46,698
Canada 46,437
Belgium 45,047
United Kingdom 42,481
France 42,314
Finland 42,165
Japan 41,275
US Pacific Islanders 40,219
Malta 39,834
Equatorial Guinea 38,639
Puerto Rico 38,393
US Blacks 38,526
South Korea 37,740
New Zealand 37,294
Italy 36,833
Spain 36,416
Israel 35,179
Cyprus 34,970
US Amerindians 34,362
Czech Republic 33,232
Slovenia 32,085
Trinidad and Tobago 31,870
US Other 31,502
Slovakia 31,339
Lithuania 29,972
Estonia 29,313
Portugal 28,933
Poland 27,764

Converted to GDP, blacks in the US would be below Equatorial Guinea (small oil state) and just above South Korea, whose per capita GDP in 2016 was 37,740. If US hispanics were disambiguated, they’d probably be around Belgium.

US Whites would be below the United Arab Emirates and above Switzerland.

However, there was also a breakdown of income by ancestry. This is more of a quick and dirty post to give a rough idea of how wealth racial groups in the US are compared to the rest of the world, but just eyeballing some ancestry data, it appears, on first glance, that European-Americans might have higher per capita incomes than Northeast Asians, and that the “Asian” incomes may be dragged up by the “Indian” value:

“Asian” Group Number in thousands Per Capita Income
Indian 3,491 44,098
Chinese 3,788 34,835
Korean 1,477 31,790
Japanese 759 43,132
Taiwanese 154 45,084
European Groups
German 46,047 34,943
Irish 33,148 34,196
English 24,382 38,525
Polish 9,249 37,413
French 8,154 33,818
Scottish 5,365 42,184
Norwegian 4,445 36,866
Dutch 4,243 34,160
Italian 3,942 35,235
“European” 3,679 38,360

The German and English are above the Chinese number, and every European group is above the Korean number, but no European group is above the Japanese or Taiwanese number. I only included the top 10 European ethnicities, because 10 is a big round number and I didn’t feel like doing a proper analysis.

But yes, this took me a bit by surprise. I had always presumed that the Northeast Asians were driving the Asian income numbers up; turns out they may be dragging them down, and that it’s the Indians who are the drivers of the high “Asian” number, and that the Northeast Asians, with Chinese and Korean as the main components, are probably below the European-American average.

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  • Marcus

    This is interesting, but it only goes to show the inadequacies of per capita GDP comparisons. Here in Ireland, our GDP figure is higher than American whites, but I’ve lived in the Netherlands, which is considerably less than US whites, and I’m reasonably confident that the Dutch standard of living is higher than the Irish.

    • Ryan Faulk

      Do you know of a better metric than GDP PPP? Because we need to use something. I’d like to use something better.

      • Marcus

        I don’t. I guess I’m just being pedantic.

        • Ryan Faulk

          Not an insult, I was seriously wondering if you knew of a better one.

          • Marcus

            I know you weren’t. I just came across the Inclusive Development Index, I don’t know anything about its methodology, but the rankings appear more in line with my colloquial experience: The index ranks Ireland 12th and the Netherlands 7th.
            Although after looking at it for a little longer, I don’t think it’s very good at all. It ranks Estonia just ahead of the US, which doesn’t seem appropriate, I’ve been to both the US and Estonia, and I can’t see how Estonia would be ranked higher than the US.

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  • Ronald Tdump

    It would be interesting to see data on black people’s income for countries that for one reason or another don’t have such humongous prison populations, disproportionately incarcerating black people, creating generations of broken families and a culture of crime. There would be arguably an effect of “selection” though, as it would more likely be the result of selective immigration to begin with.