Saturday, July 11, 2020

Rating Countries: Part II

Preliminary data
The three countries the young lady wanted me to compare to the USA benchmark were United Kingdom-Scotland, Australia and Greece.

The table shown above is a work in progress. Because it is only partially done it lacks the attributions for the data sources and there are many missing bits of data.

I expect the median wages for POC in the UK to be 70% since half of all Pakistani Brits fall into the first quintile for income. Therefore, it is hard to see mal-treatment of POC as a differentiator between the countries selected.

I was curious about the specific choice of Scotland in the UK.

The price of housing in  Scotland is about 65% of the cost of housing in England
I was informed that the young lady knew several people from Scotland and she deeply admired their character and enjoyed their personalities. Also, the price of housing is more favorable in Scotland than it is in England.

A cursory look at the data
Greece is clearly the odd-man-out for economics and language.

The reality on the ground is probably much worse than the numbers suggest.

Unless you are "family" and are prepared to pay additional fees to get your paperwork processed expeditiously, you are not going to get good jobs or be able to start a business or even register your house.

The UK is odd-man-out if a large house is important to you.

Australia is odd-man-out if you are skittish about venomous critters. The listed data does not include arthropods like spiders and scorpions. In defense of Australia, those issues are less of an issue if you live in the city in a high-rise.

The US is odd-man-out for her healthcare metrics. The UK and Australia both have immigrants and Australia has indigenous peoples but they don't seem to drag down infant and maternal mortality like they do in the US.

Geopolitical considerations
Geopolitically, Turkey:EU is the full equivalent of Mexico:USA.

Turkey can, and has, funneled vast numbers of migrants from even poorer, more chaotic Muslim states further east into Europe. Many of those migrants went through Greece. Greece is on the edge of the tectonic plates call Asia and Europe and it is a touchy topic.

Australia's geopolitical issues are different. They are a vast area, rich in extractable commodities. They are sparsely populated. They are very close to India, China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia and other economic "Tigers" who would love to have exclusive access to Australia's resources. One can make a defensible argument that there is a 20% chance that a hot, shooting war will erupt in the region within the next ten years and Australia will be in-play.

Could Australia, with 24 million people, defend itself for long if outside help was cut off?

Preliminary conclusion
The "best" country depends on what facets of life are most important to you. Even within a country that has issues, there are pockets where you can, at least for now, avoid those issues. The US has many communities with very, very low infant and maternal mortality. There are three-square-meters in Australia that is free of venomous creatures and there are castles in Scotland. Greece...unless you have family in Greece you would be better off skipping over it.

NOTES: CIA World Factbook used for some data.

OECD website used for some data.

Tax Foundation for tax on labor for ordinal rankings on ease of starting/doing business in various countries

Wikipedia for other data


  1. When comparing statistics between countries, you need to make sure that the statistics are actually comparing the same thing.
    For example, in Australia, murders are only counted when someone is charged with the crime. In England murders are counted when someone is convicted of them, and they are counted in the year of conviction, not the year the murder was committed.
    Another example: Many countries limit which births count towards infant mortality statistics, which is how some sub-Saharan countries appear to have lower infant mortality than the US.
    More ways the numbers change: some countries count only births in government hospitals, others only count births above a certain birth weight. A few countries don't premature births until their non-premature due date has been reached.

    1. You are, of course, 100% right.

      But sometimes the numbers are exactly what they are and our mental models are faulty.

      Suppose infant and maternal mortality are tightly tied to metabolic issues and obesity. If that is the case, then infant and maternal mortality are more statements of the cultural acceptability of being obese and less a statement of the quality of healthcare.

      Even with that, you have to stand back and accept that the patchwork-quilt of cultures, especially the dysfunctional ones, are a big part of what defines us as countries.

  2. Tax burdens often include free healthcare. To include the cost of healthcare in the USA with the tax burden would be more comparable to other nations' tax burden with free healthcare.

  3. Another set of factors are the intagibles of culture. You touched on corruption in Greece. My cousin emigrated to Australia and she observed 'not my job, not my problem' and 'tall poppies get cut down'. Her husband's family owned a chain of hardware stores and she did payroll for the lot. If they came back for a visit there wasn't anyone else willing to run payroll in her absence (not my job).

  4. Good luck getting it to apples to apples...


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