How U.S. Incomes Compare to Other Countries

International finance
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By Jennifer Liu

With Americans still feeling the effects of economic instability (hello, rising debt, cost of living and stagnant wages!), it's no question that there's room for improvement for sunnier financial prospects.

But compared with the rest of the world, we're still doing pretty well.

According to new analysis from the Pew Research Center, the U.S. is one of just 10 countries where more than half of the population -- that's 56 percent of Americans, to be exact -- are considered to be in the highest tier on a global income scale with $50 or more a day to live on.

The other countries are Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. Altogether, just 7 percent of the global population falls into this range.

The study, which includes 111 countries totaling 88 percent of the global population, divides income level into five groups:
  • Poor, or those living on $2 or less a day
  • Low income, from $2.01 to $10
  • Middle income, from $10.01 to $20
  • Upper-middle income, from $20.01 to $50
  • High income, more than $50 a day
These dollar figures were calculated based on purchasing power parity dollars, or the exchange rates adjusted for differences in the prices of goods and services across countries

Although the U.S. official poverty line threshold translates to living on $15.77 or less a day, that's still a fair amount higher than the $10 a day middle-income global baseline. In the U.S., almost 9 in 10 Americans fall above this worldwide middle ground -- a quality shared with many other European and North American residents, who together account for 87 percent of the global high-income population.

Interested in how your money life compares to your other U.S. neighbors? Check out these personal stories of how other families across the country make their budgets work.
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