Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

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How Gross is my Domestic Product?
Politicans and journalists enjoy comparing the size of the world's economies. Will the USA be overtaken by China? Is the UK sliding down the charts, or has inward investment provided some much-needed financial Viagra? And so on. You get the idea.

In these kinds of comparisons the different sizes of the populations involved are seldom mentioned, though surely it would be surprising if an industrialized country of 316 million people didn't have a bigger economy than one with 127 million, or if one of 80 million didn't have a bigger economy than one of 64 million: viz., the USA, Japan, Germany and the UK respectively. From that point of view it's interesting to look at the league tables showing GDP per capita.

Once you strip out the tax havens, oil states and microstates, you find that the northeren European countries dominate the top of the list, with Australia making a good showing and the US and Canada a little way behind. The UK is somewhere in the mid-twenties, depending which measure you use.

What strikes me most about these lists, though, is the position of Ireland, which is consistently shown as several places above Germany in terms of GDP per capita. Isn't that a little strange, considering the straits it's found itself in in recent years, and Germany's relative economic success? Is this a sign that Ireland is increasingly dependent on being a tax haven for multinational companies (like Luxembourg, which sits even higher in the table)? Or is there some factor I'm missing?

I think it's the amount of nominal money that is declared as due to Irish production because it's a tax haven for Apple and other places. I've read that the money has little actual interaction with the Irish economy.

That was my suspicion.

Indeed, GDP figures tell us relatively little about the wealth of the average citizen, partly because inequality varies so widely between countries. Norway, both rich and egalitarian, sounds pretty cool, though.

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Sweden would not have been a good place for me to grow up, unfortunately. This story is only two years old.

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Re: I know

On the bright side, Sweden also produces things like this...



It's cisnormative, yes, but still charming.

Edited at 2015-01-17 04:15 pm (UTC)

There's also another factor which will influence the table if taken into consideration.
These calculations are all based upon a value in money. But taken into what kind of goods they produce, luxury or high-tech goods, or basic goods and food, a good lot of Western countries fall behind.
Because they already developed the habit of "producing food doesn't generate enough profit anymore, if you should sell it for a cheap price", this production except for the organic food production was pushed further into the East - meaning further into the East of Europe or even towards China.
The reason for mentioning is - it's pretty poor for a country only picking and choosing the best parts of an economy to do, but being not able to supply itself with basic food on its own. Especially if they have the means and space for it.
(At least that's the development it has taken in the EU.)

The reason for mentioning is - it's pretty poor for a country only picking and choosing the best parts of an economy to do, but being not able to supply itself with basic food on its own. Especially if they have the means and space for it.
(At least that's the development it has taken in the EU.)


I agree, though the Common Agricultural Policy (which as I understand it was developed so that the EU would always be self-sufficient in food) notoriously brings its own problems, in the form of tariffs and waste. The underlying problem is a more fundamental one of inequality.

The law side of the EU is one side.
Talking from the side how things are in Germany, which I know best - say 20 or 25 years ago, there've been a lot more fields around which have been used for food production. Nowadays they're abandoned for this purpose. Instead, at least for meat you can follow the trace a bit better (only from what it says on the packaging), things come from Poland, Hungary, Eastern Europe. Cheap rabbis around Christmas time, you can even read openly it comes from China.
An excourse in history - as there were still 2 German states (West Germany and the GDR), West Germany got good amounts of half pigs from East Germany because the currency of the GDR wasn't attached a high exchange course rate in Western countries by principle. Simply to say, they imported the meat because it was cheaper than theirs.
The GDR in need of Western currencies to buy Western goods the people asked for made the trades, but that even was one major reason for that supermarket shelves in the GDR were as empty as people who lived in the state always describe it.
The same principle nowadays continues living in Germany and the whole EU - the so-called "weaker" EU countries produce goods like these for the "stronger" EU countries, not for their own supply, although the importing EU countries had capacities themselves.

Thank you - yes, that makes sense.

Cheap rabbis around Christmas time

And thank you for this, too! :)

And so that France, in particular, with its large agricultural sector, could sell the EU / EC / EEC to its citizens.

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The curse of being a north European! Unfortunately there's a spell placed on Retsina which means that north of the Alps its turns into turpentine, as many a tourist has found on returning from a Greek holiday.

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"Im Ausland" is good, but "overseas" is more evocative, somehow...

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