[extropy-chat] Being alive timing [was: Stardust at Home]

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 25 19:34:01 UTC 2006

--- Dirk Bruere <dirk.bruere at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 1/25/06, spike <spike66 at comcast.net> wrote:
> >
> > > >A quick glance at The World Fact Book (for the
> World
> > > statistics) and use of the google calculator ...
> > > reveals that the average person in the world
> > > is living on ~$18/day...

> $18 a day is a meaningless figure.
> It needs to be corrected for Purchasing Power
> Parity.
> $18 goes a *lot* further in Chad than in Japan.
Not only is $18 a day meaningless for the reasons you
discussed, Dirk, but depending on how Spike calculated
the "average" it may be highly misleading. If he just
took the total wealth in the world and divided by the
number of people in the world, he would be calculating
the mean. The mean however is not the correct measure
of "averageness" for highly skewed distributions like
the wealth curve. 

Since over half of all
available wealth is concentrated in the highest 5% of
the wealth distribution, the median is more reflective
of the wealth of the "average" person than the mean
would be. The Sultan of Brunei, for example, has a
significant effect on the mean while he is simply
cancelled out by a starving Bangladeshi with regards
to the median. Thus the mean wealth is much HIGHER for
the world than the median wealth. I don't have data
for the whole world, but for the U.S. during the
80s-90s, the mean wealth was about four times higher
than the median wealth. See the attached tables for

The tables are from "Recent Trends in the Size
Distribution of Household Wealth" by Edward N. Wolff,
The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 12, No. 3.
(Summer, 1998), pp. 131-150.
The trend is that mean wealth is rising
over time while the median wealth is falling. This
could be construed as a problem, unless of course one
is in the upper 5%. 

The Avantguardian 
Stuart LaForge
alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed. . ."

- Albert Einstein, "What I Believe" (1930)

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