Talk:Median household income

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Corrected major inaccuracies[edit]

Basicaly, all of the numbers and many of the rankings here (of median income) were incorrect. In adittion it contained oddities such as having canada listed twice. I have corrected these, with data from the OECD as indicated in the source. Specifically, the numbers are from OECD's Income distribution and poverty, under theme Social Protection and Well-being, converted into PPP $ with OECD's PPPs and exchange rates, under the theme prices and Purchasing power parities, using Purchasing power paritities for private consumption, rounding the resulting numbers. If anyone changes this list without providing another source than the OECD, i will change it back.

Summary of this talk page, June 29th, 2012[edit]

A number of the below comments say that the numbers in this article are wrong. An updated median income for the US is likely +60% higher. An updated PPP median income could change the rank of the countries dramatically. Basically, this wikipedia entry has more wrong information than correct information. I advocate for deleting this entry now (with the possibility of resurrecting it once someone improves it).

The article should remain, but yes, it's 2013 but it still shows 2007 data in one of the tables. We need updated data. (talk) 21:40, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Article should not be deleted under any circumstances because it is useful sociology data, but data is 4 years out of date. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:50, 10 July 2014 (UTC)


The table should be expanded to show the year each data point was taken (affects comparability) and to include more countries. -- Beland 02:02, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

Yes it should, I added the years where possible. Signaturebrendel 02:28, 17 February 2007 (UTC)
Somehow the references got deleted along the way. I don't know how to undo changes, but they should be put back. At least for New Zealand, the reference was very accurate. Uayebforever 12:49, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
There may be a better resource for the PPP conversions through the IMF 2007 April data. Inflation differences in the US have really allowed this to change significantly since the 2003 OECD numbers. [1]
If you revisit the OECD page, there are conversions for 2006, although I don't doubt the IMF is even better. Also, how do you edit that table? I was going to put in the 2006 numbers but I couldn't figure it out. --Jmcdon10 20:12, 21 September 2007 (UTC)

Please keep in mind when comparing household income to GDP that GDP includes government spending. People have the misconception that GDP is goods and services produced and it is not. When you include government spending money that was borrowed or printed out of thin air in this number it is essentially a meaningless number. A more useful comparison might be household income to U.S. Companies' net profits after taxes. This would be the net produced. ----kgoodman


Someone made a criticism of ppp which was deleted. They were claiming that quality of life in France is under represented by the OECD figures because education and health care are state funded. The reason for the deletion is that median household income is based on GROSS income (pre-tax), it doesn't distinquish whether the payment route is public or private. Countries with large public services also have high taxes. Their take-home income is lower, but they are compensated with more social services. Badenoch (talk) 19:40, 4 April 2008 (UTC)

Well, there is some truth to that argument owing to the multiplier effect of government spending. The benefits a person derives from the welfare state may well outweigh the cost they pay in taxes. Yet those statements are irrelevant here, since they can be used for a a general (and valid) criticism of using monetary income as a sole proxy for social welfare, but not the use of PPP in currency conversions. The comments were misplaced and the arugment badly crafted - so deletion was justified IMHO. Regards, Signaturebrendel 03:57, 5 April 2008 (UTC)


I was hoping to find an article addressing all countries. This article is tied to the US economy. Perhaps it should be split into two articles. US median incomes and International median incomes. Also, hopefully expanded for all countries. (talk) 20:10, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

The U.S. is included here as an example, because data for it so readily available. I did create a seperate article, Household income in the United States about two years ago. Signaturebrendel 01:19, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Why was Switzerland adjusted by taxes and health insurance when no one else was? This seems to be nothing more than an attempt by Americans to boost their rating. Why not adjust America to taxes and health insurance as well? (talk) 01:55, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

I adjusted to Swiss figures because unlike other developed countries, Switzerland has a private healthcare system. It would be unjust to compare French medium income versus the Swiss one as the French have very little health-related expenses. It is by no mean politically motivated. I would have loved to be able to have a comparable figure for the US but the US does not have a mandatory healthcare system. In Switzerland, health insurance is mandatory and expensive compared to other European nations. I felt it was appropriate to adjust the figures accordingly. User:Frichmon —Preceding undated comment added 22:36, 3 December 2009 (UTC).

Yes, well, America has the most expensive healthcare in the entire world (although we are probably about to switch to a healthcare system similar to Switzerlands). Are all the others adjusted to taxes as well? (talk) 21:54, 26 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree that this adjustment (both for health care costs and taxes) is peculiar. Moreover, Swiss taxes vary considerably by canton (in Zug eg they are close to nothing, whereas in Geneva they are higher than in neighboring france). What rate was used? And why was this adjustment not made for (say) New Zealand? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:51, 15 January 2010 (UTC)

Interesting that you state that the Swiss health care system is private. All people living in Switzerland must take out compulsory health insurance (and if you don't do it, the government will take one out for you, backdate it and send you the bill). These policies are payed for out of Net salary and prices vary dependent on age, location, excess and policy type so it is very difficult to calculate. It is also difficult to work out a 'standard' tax rate for Switzerland, again due to varying factors such as: marital status, number of children, where you live (this is calculated by canton and town, so even within the same canton it will vary) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:26, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

Can someone expand the table so that in addition to US dollars, includes the currencies of other countries where English is the dominant language, since this is the English language Wikipedia article? Or perhaps just British pounds, Euros and rupees (since India is the most populous English-speaking country)? Nightscream (talk) 18:42, 19 March 2013 (UTC)

Global median[edit]

I know that the global median is $5,000 a year -- where could that go in? In Thailand it is $8,000, Romania: $10,000, China: $7,000, India: $3,000. J intela (talk) 00:54, 16 September 2008 (UTC)


It should also note the difference between individual income vs. household income and the effect of the reduction in size of households —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:20, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

Economist Thomas Sowell made this argument just after 20 second to the 2 minute mark in this video:

He said whenever someone quotes household income, "they are trying to make things look bad" —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:24, 2 December 2009 (UTC)


I agree with above. Beause of the distinct difference between family and individual income these should be a separate article. I hope more international facts would be added to both. ```` —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:25, 1 May 2009 (UTC)


I disagree with some of the conclusions presented above and some items in the video. Accurately calculating and comparing the income of an average person is very difficult because there are so many convoluting factors.

1. AVERAGE INCOME. You cannot use "average income" as a general measure of earnings because average can be biased by large changes with small seqments of the population. For exmaple, a large increase in upper bracket income would make it seem as though everyone's income was increasing when in fact it may be staying the same or even falling.

To illustrate that point, if you have a population of four workers, three of them were making $1 and one was making $10, the average is $3.25. However, if the top earner's income increases to $100, the average would go up to $25.75, (an increase of 7.9 times,) even though the income for the majority of the population hasn't changed at all.

1 + 1 + 1 + 10 = Mean = $3.25, Median = $1

1 + 1 + 1 + 100 = Mean = $25.75, Median = $1

In general, to accurately reflect the economic status for the Majority of the population, the correct measure is Median Income. Median Income is immune to shifts in one bracket that aren't reflected in others. In the two examples above, the median income remains $1 no matter how much the top bracket goes up.

2. HOUSEHOLD INCOME. As the video points out, household income is not a good measure of general income. Household size and composition have changed dramatically over the past 50 years. This makes it hard to compare income from year-to-year and draw conclusions from household data.a

For example, household size has decreased as people have fewer children. On the other hand, since there are more women working and people are retiring later, these two factors increase the number of people working in each household. Since it is almost impossible to disentangle all these countervailing trends, household income is not a good measure of general income.

3. INDIVIDUAL INCOME. Even if you look at individual data, it is difficult to draw conclusions because there has been a dramatic shift in women's working patterns. For example, the Inflation-Adjusted, Annual Income of men has decreased over the past 35 years:

1973 = $34,762 2009 = $32,184

However, during the same period of time, women's Inflation-Adjusted, Annual Income has increased:

1973 = $11,983 2009 = $20,957

This increase is deceptive because it comes because women are working more hours and there is increased parity with men. Increased parity is good, but it is not a change that was caused by an underlying trend in the economy. It was caused by women demanding equality and equal access to the job market. In other words, if women had had parity with men all along, there would have been no increase in women's income.

So if you combine women's and men's income it appears that the average person in the US is doing better. However, the fact is that all the increase is due to women demanding equal pay and working more hours.

4. BENEFITS. Another convoluting factor is Benefits. If you include benefits in your calculation of income, income appears to rise. However, for the average worker, about 27% of their benefits go to pay health insurance costs. While the costs of other kinds benefits have stayed the same, over the past decade Health insurance costs have been rising at between 6% and 12% per year. That is several times the inflation rate. As a result, even though benefits are increasing, a worker only gets the same insurance coverage. The result is that even if you adjust insurance rates for inflation, the benefits are not truly inflation-adjusted because insurance cost are increasing at several times the rate of inflation.

5. MEN'S INCOME. Given the problems described above, the most accurate way to look at trends in income is to look at men's median income. The percentage of men in the labor market has not changed and there are no parity issues. As a result, men's income gives an apples-to-apples comparison from year to year. InflationAdjustedMedianIncomeHistory.jpg Larry Fish (talk) 00:35, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

Costs of Pure Capitalism[edit]

Please incorporate costs such as health care and education when calculating median income. Real income in countries such as the US, with economies weighted toward pure capitalism, is probably overstated without deductions for those costs. This is particularly relevant within lower income levels, where upward mobility is impeded by inability to pay expenses associated with higher education and health care. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Kerryjtx (talkcontribs) 20:51, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

Which of the best available sources on median household income calculate income this way? Wikipedia has to use information that is verified by the best available sources, and we aren't allowed to do original research based on our own interpretations. -FisherQueen (talk · contribs) 20:55, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

Should this topic include figures?[edit]

Possibly this article should include a discussion of the concept of median household income, but few actual figures should be given, more for the sake of giving a feel for approximate numbers than to try to give definitive figures. It would be better pointing an authoritative source that does publish such figures. a) the scope of compiling numbers is too large - who wants to do it for a couple of hundred countries? b) the figures are out of date almost the minute they're published. The figures in the current article are (as write this in 2010) four years old. E.g. Since the figures were compiled the world has gone through the GFC and China (for example) has grown by about 25%. c) how to reasonably compare countries Median household income sensibly seems a little contentious.

Frankly this article seems accurate as far as it goes, but... what it goes into, and how deeply it goes into it seems wildly arbitrary. (talk) 13:03, 6 June 2010 (UTC)

And did we really need US household broken down by race? Actually I'm surprised that households have a race seeing particularly as the article says at the top that households are different from families. (So a McMansion would be white? a Condominium, asian perhaps? Help me out here.) And do the six billion non Americans in the world care particularly about the racial quirks of the society in which less the other (quick mental arithmetic) 5% of them live? I mean it's kind of interesting but only in the same way that the fact that Eiffel tower shrinks six inches in winter is also interesting. Possibly it would be more germane to a discussion of US racial politics than of median household income.

Sorry this article just appears very flakey. (talk) 13:23, 6 June 2010 (UTC)

This topic should include numbers or figures broken down by race[edit]

This entry is about trying to understand the middle of a distribution (not the mean, but the median). However, given the fact that different racial groups earn dramatically different incomes, an understanding of the "middle" needs to include disaggregation by race. IF the median was a good measure of the middle, then not disaggregating for race would be acceptable. For instance, if the median black and median asian earned similar incomes then the disaggregation would be redundant. However, given a number of factors (slavery, jim crow, and contemporary racism) there are large disparities in median income along race lines. Therefore, the inclusion of a discussion of race in this entry is welcome and needed. If anything, contrary to the above poster, the discussion of race should be expanded. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:09, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Still US-centric[edit]

Despite this issue being raised two years ago. And as also described above, the table seems to have been doctored to show the US in the best light: after-tax figures for Switzerland and Canada, and older stats for non-US countries. (talk) 12:45, 19 December 2010 (UTC)

Swiss Data[edit]

The data for Switzerland are averages not medians!

Gdp versus household income[edit]

can we re-generate this going back to the early 80s financial crisis? say from 1980? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:07, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Totally inaccurate[edit]

Are the numbers for some countries from the 1920s? It states Australia has a PPP USD value in the 20,000s. Even this page from 2007 shows Australian values at least one and a half times higher than the US. [[2]]. Take values from 2011 and we're looking at the US being something like twentieth in PPP. A situation that has been apparent for a long time. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:44, 6 December 2011 (UTC)

Median income is not[edit]

The OECD data that is described as "Median income" is not. If you follow the link, it is actually something like "equivalized median household disposable income." Which I'm sure is useful for some purposes, but it's clearly not "median income." The median income in the US, according to the 2010 census, is approximately $51,000. I'm sure the figures for other countries are off as well. Thewimsey (talk) 22:13, 12 March 2012 (UTC)

You are correct. The chart actually indicates that the numbers are for "Median Equivalised Household Income" but the chart subtitle and article sentence pointing to it were misleading. The article does point to equivalisation at the beginning and the table also indicates that the incomes are equivalised. I think it is important that all the tables and charts in the article use the same data for like for like comparisons. --Ski67dOO (talk) 04:36, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
@Thewimsey, @Ski67dOO The link from the words "equivalent adult" leads me to Equivalisation which explains that there are different methods of equivalisation, but the table provided does not specify which method was used – which makes the data just aout useless useless - I think? I am also not able to view the source (subscriptio n required) XOttawahitech (talk) 00:06, 23 August 2013 (UTC)
@Ottawahitech, The data for this particular table are all from one report, OECD, and therefore use the same method of equivalisation. Therefore, one can compare each country like for like within this chart. --Ski67dOO (talk) 02:02, 8 February 2014 (UTC)

The chart is for disposable household income, not overall household income - this is why it appears so low. It would be better if the chart showed actual household income.

Median income in the United States declines by 7.2%[edit]

The Washington Post says that median income in the United states has declined by 7.2% since 2000 – any idea where on Wikipedia this tidbit can be added? XOttawahitech (talk) 00:01, 23 August 2013 (UTC)

Misleading data from sources[edit]

The data from Gallup don't correspond to the data presented in this table. The source quotes $780 for Liberia's median household income, yet it's listed as $572 here. What's going on? The numbers for the US states are also sourceless. The OECD numbers also have no sources, simply referencing to the OECD statistics. Where are these numbers coming from? As per WP:Verifiability, any unsourced content may be challenged and removed. The numbers must be directly sourced in a clear manner and show direct sources. They must be accessible by everyone directly, using the OECD statistics database as a source isn't enough. Massyparcer (talk) 15:36, 9 March 2014 (UTC)

You are right, the Gallup figures are not sourced, and compared to actual data that I have seen, are just wrong. For example, the Swiss figure is overstated while UK and Aus are understated I know this because when I divide aggregate HH income by number of HH I get substantially different figures, that would make the medians from Gallup not possible. But of course they are based on a small sample, asking simply "what was your income." It's bound to be flawed. It's not a study either. Lneal001 (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 23:04, 9 March 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it has some flaws but it would be difficult to get official data from countries like Liberia, so asking them of their income could be more accurate in that sense. We shouldn't remove the table altogether but leave it intact with the correct numbers as quoted directly from the source. And not mess with it as per WP:OR. Just use the numbers from the non-subscription page I posted above. Also, we still need a direct link or at least how to get to the OECD numbers on their database. Massyparcer (talk) 01:20, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

Removal of Median Per Capita Income $PPP[edit]

Is there a reason why this was removed?

Take a look at how the page used to look like

It was wildly more detailed than it is today

Is there a reason why it isn't like this? I'll be reverting it within a week if I don't get an answer. Mfwyurop (talk) 02:20, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

Read the discussion above. The figures on that list do not match with the source at all and seems invented out of the air, which is violating WP:OR and WP:Verifiability. However, I do believe that we should put the list back but with the correct numbers and without the US states which are non-existent in the source. The list must be free of user invented numbers. Massyparcer (talk) 06:04, 12 March 2014 (UTC)

here's various sources for per capita income by states:

and of course, the main google link:

oh, and here's disposable income by state

now let's get this information in there like we had it before, this time properly using those sources Mfwyurop (talk) 08:05, 15 March 2014 (UTC)

You can't use completely uncomparable data on a list. The calculation and definition used between US states and other countries vary significantly. The numbers must come from a single source. A + B = C is a synthesis and violation of WP:OR. It's just not how Wikipedia works. Massyparcer (talk) 09:57, 25 March 2014 (UTC)

"The calculation and definition used between US states and other countries vary significantly"

Citation needed

Mfwyurop (talk) 03:29, 7 April 2014 (UTC)

No direct source for OECD numbers[edit]

I have raised this issue multiple times, but the OECD list sources its list to the OECD's statistics database as a source, with no direct link to the numbers. If there are no direct sources to prove these numbers, they must be removed as per WP:Verifiability. People better come up with a direct link fast or at least show us how to get to these numbers, otherwise, it will be removed. Massyparcer (talk) 15:21, 13 March 2014 (UTC)

Then remove it. Thought I know for a fact that the numbers can be accessed by the stat.exract oecd link. Lneal001 (talk) 15:40, 14 March 2014 (UTC)
Then show us how to get to those numbers in the stat.extract database. If you can't show us how to get there, these numbers are nothing but invented stuff. Massyparcer (talk) 04:47, 16 March 2014 (UTC) click median disposable income (constant prices) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Arnob1 (talkcontribs) 16:42, 18 June 2014 (UTC)

Discrepancy between OECD numbers and US census numbers[edit]

  • The Census bureau reports the median household income as : $53,046 [3]
  • The OECD table states that the median disposable household income at constant prices is: $29,056 [4]

Could someone help me:

  1. Understand why there is such a huge discrepancy between the numbers?
  2. Why an article about median household income is actually using median disposable household incomes at constant dollars?

Arnob (talk) 15:44, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

It's adjusted by the square root of the household size, thus equivalised. It isn't really household income. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:BC8A:9DC0:0:0:0:47 (talk) 05:13, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

Removing nominal numbers is unnecessary[edit]

As far as i see it, there is no reason to not have median income in both PPP and nominal dollars. While PPP dollars is the correct way to compare income between different countries, as far as i see it there no reason to not also include nominal numbers. That the ranking is by PPP dollars relfects that that is the most relavant comparision, but for interested readers there is no reason to not also include nominal numbers. I will edit the page to also include the nominal numbers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:10, 7 December 2014 (UTC)

You said yourself that PPP is the correct way, so why add something that is superfluous? I do not agree. Also, the exchange rates NOW are vastly different than they were in 2011, making the numbers even more useless. In fact now, the PPP numbers and the exchange rates are pretty close. Lneal001 (talk) 22:40, 10 December 2014 (UTC)

Why make less information available to the readers? Some readers might find nominal numbers interesting. I just see no need to restrict the information available to readers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:06, 12 December 2014 (UTC)

Because the exchange rates used are now totally outdated and therefore the numbers are wrong. Why would you use old exchange rates? Also, by placing it side by side with PPPs it makes reader think that they are just as relevantLneal001 (talk) 21:54, 12 December 2014 (UTC)
PPP is the textbook recommended and only viable method of comparing international incomes accurately at the moment, this is why all major organizations such as the UN, IMF and World Bank use PPP in international comparisons and rankings. Massyparcer (talk) 03:41, 13 December 2014 (UTC)

Would you also that nominal GDP is a useless measurement? It's provided on wikipedia anyway. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:28, 7 April 2015 (UTC)

Regarding US bias in the article[edit]

Lneal001, i know you americans hold your idea of american economic superiority very dearly, but i have to refer to wikipedia policy ( The way the article is now is incredibly biased towards an american perspective, focusing only on underreporting of income in the US, and furthermore gives readers the faulty impression that US median income is much much higher than in the rest of the world. If you can provide a more global perspective, feel free to do so, but i cannot allow the article to stand as it currently is. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:32, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

It's a sourced link showing underreporting of the US figure, and the OECD list DOES have a source for ALL countries, so you are wrong. Just because you do not like the result of the US figure dos not mean you can change and I will not allow it, sorry. I have personally looked at the income aggregates and have compared it to national accounts data and can assure you that the US figure is consitently underreported, and considerably more than other countries. I have tried to make a list adjusting upwards all medians for underreporting but Wiki does not let me because they do not allow personal research.Therefore, the most I can do is find sources which show the "true" median and this is the source I found from the US. If you find similar study for other places add it. Lneal001 (talk) 19:40, 22 February 2015 (UTC)

I've noticed another issue: Your numbers appear to be based on original research. The numbers you cite for income do not appear to be anywhere in the papers you cite. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:07, 14 March 2015 (UTC)

@ Thanks for reverting my revert. I missed this comment about the OR tag when I glanced at the talk page. My apologies. I'll look into the issue later. EvergreenFir (talk) Please {{re}} 19:28, 18 March 2015 (UTC)
The underestimation ratios are provided in the table linked. I did not give a specific figure, just a range by applying the ratio, which is logical.Lneal001 (talk) 18:13, 19 March 2015 (UTC)