Two points based on the charts on page 44, 46.
1) Looking at just "middle income" people exaggerates the situation in the U.S. because part of the reason the U.S. has a smaller middle class is because it has a bigger upper class. About 15% of the U.S. is "upper income" versus 5% in countries like Denmark, Norway, or France. At the other end, about 35% of the U.S. is "lower income" or below. That's on the high side, but Sweden, Ireland, and the U.K. are not that far off, at about 30%. Even Norway and Denmark are in the 25-26% range.
The more concerning thing (and the OECD report focuses on that) is that almost 20% of the U.S. is poor (below 50% of median income) versus say 10% in Sweden (or 5% in Denmark).
2) Being "middle income" means different things in different countries. The lower threshold for the U.S. is $23,416 PPP-adjusted 2010 dollars per year. That's right around the median income for Germany. Put differently, someone who is right at the boundary between "middle income" and "lower income" in the U.S. is right at the median income in Germany. Many of the people in the U.S. classified as "low income" in the U.S. would still qualify as "middle income" in Germany.
> The lower threshold for the U.S. is $23,416 PPP-adjusted 2010 dollars per year.
A person that makes this in the US usually will not receive health insurance at work. Depending on the specifics of the person's demographics/state/income, a worker at the boundary between "middle income" and "lower income" may not be eligible for ACA subsidies and may not make enough to pay premiums. The middle/lower part of the income range is where a lot of the uninsured live. Jobs that pay near this boundary also tend not to come with real health insurance. So the frequent debate about repealing the ACA means that even if they are insured today, these folks do not have any healthcare security as the nation actively debates repealing their lifeline. (IIRC the Supreme Court will decide this summer whether millions of people lose their insurance this year. It's not a sure thing either way.)
My personal take is that not until you're fairly rich (upper middle class) can you attain roughly the level of healthcare security that comes with residency in other rich countries. And even that requires you to stay employed, so it's still a lesser quality of security.
Similar factors apply to the rest of the safety net. The US might be the worst rich country to live in if you're low-income/modest income.
But there are millions of families that fall on that border between "low-income" and "middle class" who are not eligible for subsidies, get crappy insurance, and have trouble paying for even that (which they lose if the employee gets sick).
Now, I think it would be better to have more of a safety net and less in the way of material comforts. But it's not fair to ignore the fact that higher incomes come with tangible benefits for Americans. It's not all downside with no upside.
As a person, you'll around 100% likely to the doctor. In any Western Europe country, you don't have to think about it. In the US, you either think about it because of your copay or your don't go because you don't have money.
Also, 12.4% of all Americans are uninsured and 28% are underinsured: http://fortune.com/2019/02/07/americans-health-care-underins... . Don't pretend the current situation in the US is anywhere near healthy.
As to your point about the uninsured--I'm not debating the merits of various healthcare systems, I'm trying to contextualize the experience of the typical American. The typical American has health insurance (and is not underinsured), pays $25 or so for their annual checkup, and lives in a house two and a half times bigger than their counterpart in the U.K. (That American is also a job loss + health scare away from significant financial problems. Both things are true.)
40% of those Americans are not your “typical” American. Americans also on average take 10 days of vacation, while 24% of private industry workers don’t have any day of vacation, and have no job security because they can be fired at any time. They also have to pay for their kid’s college education or have them take r
The median wealth of the US is also 97k$, compared to 113k€ in France. That’s not counting the fact that all retirement in France is publicly managed, meaning it doesn’t count into your wealth when it does in the US (except for social security)
As to wealth. I don't know what source you're looking at. This report shows the U.S. compares quite well to say Germany: https://www.credit-suisse.com/corporate/en/research/research... (pages 40, 44).
28.4% of Americans have under $10,000, while 33.6% have $100,000-$1m. In Germany, 40% are under $10,000, while 34.5% are $100,000-$1m. Switzerland does better than both--just 13.7% under $10,000, and 52.1% in $100,000-$1m.
Also, American wealth is not as high as you'd expect because America's savings rate is very low (5%, versus 10% for the EU and almost 15% in France). This is a trend that long predates things like soaring healthcare expenditures, and it has more to do with American consumer culture.
Not sure what you mean here. Do you mean things like le forfait hospitalier ? Which is like 20 bucks a day you're in the hospital (if your complementary insurance doesn't reimburse you). Usually you're at 80-90% coinsurance when you go to the hospital in the US with a top-tier insurance (which is going to run you ~1000-10000$ a day). Your source is also a 2003 document, which predates a lot of the current health crisis in the US.
> This report shows the U.S. compares quite well to say Germany
You're cherry-picking here: Germany is pretty well known to have lower wealth because of a prevalence of renting.
runako: If you make $23k, you don't have a job that gives you health insurance.
rayiner: None of this is a big deal, because most Americans have health insurance through their employer.
Er, what? Yeah, most do, I guess ... the part making much more than $23k.
Even among the groups most likely to lack health insurance (households of unrelated individuals making less than $25,000), uninsured + direct purchase (having to buy your own health insurance) only accounts for 1/3 of people in that segment. (Row 210.)
From row 200 of that table, looks like you're reading off the "Covered by some type of health insurance during the year" (85%) column. This is ambiguous. It could mean there was at least some period during the year where you had some sort of coverage. Or it could mean that you had some coverage for the entirety of the year.
Which is it?
But the security thing is a real thing that affects even people who make good money. American cars/bigger houses/etc. can be transitory because our healthcare system sucks and our education system is too expensive. I wouldn't dismiss these things because there's two generations now that are experiencing all of the insecurity in healthcare & education costs without experiencing the benefits that accrued to prior generations. Our current model may not be sustainable.
(Also & this isn't 100% germane to your argument, but most of the US population is eligible for some part of the safety net at some point. Notably, most infants are eligible for WIC because they are not born to well-off families. Obviously ditto the Social Security & Medicare. It's probably fair to say that most Americans will lean on the safety net at some point in their lives.)
Why would this matter when the PPP is different for each country?
Don't ignore the safety net.
(This was observed by Engels long ago: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_consciousness )
76% of Americans spend a year of their life in the top 20%, 56% in the top 10%.
So I disagree, they're pretty completely wrong.
That's not that surprising; median income for 45-54 age range is about 70th percentile overall, so do a little better than median in this age range and it's easy to hit top 20%; of courses this is still an income that is (especially on a non-sustained basis) not a sign of significant difference in economic relationships from the median—its working or lower middle class, in traditional terms, and not—contrary to AEIs spin, evidence for class mobility.
>They aren't completely wrong. 76% of Americans spend a year of their life in the top 20%, 56% in the top 10%.
Top 20% is > $79,000
Top 10% is > $114,000
That's not even in the ballpark. They are completely wrong.
Example - in the UK there is very much a "these are the cards I've been dealt" attitude towards social mobility.
Lack of a perceived positive vision from the other side; the lack of doing something with the moment of attention after the crisis of confidence (or “malaise”, though he never said that in it) speech is particularly frequently pointed to.
One of the major differences i have found between people of working class in the US and those of other nations is their relation to their social class.
a lot of people in the US seem to be trying to get out of a "working class" strata, instead of getting a bigger piece of the pie for said strata.
You're also ignoring many other social issues that Republican's have traditionally supported that have nothing to do with race. There are probably very few people taking race into consideration at all when they vote.
This is mostly a self-aggrandizing myth. According to the world values survey (here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inglehart_Values_Map...) the US puts LESS emphasis on self-expression than most of the Nordics and even the Anglosphere outside of the British Isles. All countries have much stronger safety nets than we do. It's Britain and the US where Thatcherism shredded the safety net, and in both cases the conservative parties went hard on racially coded appeals to get working class support to do it.
Just from eyeballing it, I would guess traditionalism vs. secular-rationalism is the axis that determines robustness of the safety net. But that's a hard correlation to draw just because of how much variables like state capacity and literacy play a role.
> People just don't believe in hand outs, to anyone (I know I don't). There's nothing racist about that.
It's not a coincidence that all the talk about "hand outs" focused on racially coded language about who is receiving the hand outs. It's not an accident that the "welfare queen" narratives were always in the projects of urban areas and never in trailer parks.
>You're also ignoring many other social issues that Republican's have traditionally supported that have nothing to do with race. There are probably very few people taking race into consideration at all when they vote.
Plenty of other countries have socially conservative parties that still advocate for strong welfare states. Christian Democratic parties throughout Europe are like this. Christian Democrats start losing to right wing conservatives right around when a lot of immigrants or refugees show up. This too, is not a coincidence.
And it’s not complete. We all harbor some of the racist conditioning, I’m just willing to be cognizant of it because I think perpetuating racist things is worse than being called out on it.
I also put a lot of work into identifying and correcting unhealthy subconscious "programming". I've been doing it for 7 years, and continue to work at it daily. And yes, some of that programming has included judgements of others based on identity group, class, etc.
But it's included a lot of things too, including the propensity to judge other people negatively for not having undertaken the kind of work I've done, or assuming that the same subconscious attitudes that existed in me, equally exist in others.
It's not a productive or kind way to interact with people.
The most important realisation we need to make when we start understanding our inner selves is that there's so much more that we don't understand, even within ourselves, let alone others.
Given this, it's not for us to make assumptions about what exists inside others or pronouncements about what others should think or do.
This is basically just solipsism. The human condition is knowable, the concept of social science couldn't exist otherwise.
There are numerous academic, clinical, epidemiological, and business disciplines that depend on doing exactly this. My personal background is in social science that I briefly applied to doing market research. But History, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, and tons of other fields also depend on being able to draw conclusions from making generalizable assumptions.
The key problem here is hidden in this statement:
>including the propensity to judge other people negatively for not having undertaken the kind of work I've done, or assuming that the same subconscious attitudes that existed in me, equally exist in others.
You cannot make progress on addressing societal problems if the first reaction to even acknowledging the existence of the problem is to react negatively and to take the criticism as a personal attack. Frequently people act like being called racist is worse than actually perpetuating racism and that needs to change. There is no process to engage in that sort of growth in character without promoting some level of discomfort.
It's not a clinical setting or a formal study involving willing participants. Invoking academic concepts to make unsolicited diagnoses of people's inner thoughts and motivations is not ethical, nor a good-faith form of discussion, and doing so can only bring about more polarisation and resistance.
It's due to this propensity among activists across the political spectrum, that our standard of discourse is so low, and that hardline ideological positions keep becoming more entrenched.
For this to change, we need more people to undertake deep inner work on themselves for sincere and earnest reasons, rather than making unsolicited diagnoses of strangers on internet discussion boards and espousing simplistic explanations for the deeply complex problems in the world for the sake of ideological point-scoring.
Nice deflection. But why does it matter? You've successfully deflected a well known and documented sociological and political science fact into a matter of MY personal virtues.
Which is precisely the problem I've been taking about. Nobody cares about your personal virtue. The fact remains that racism has been a critical element driving right wing economic policy and this is a well known and documented fact that has been attested to by the people doing it (like Lee Atwater). This isn't really up for debate, and the fact that you're not bothering to debate it and retreating to ad hominem instead kind of makes that clear.
No we don't need people to undertake "deep inner work." We need to solve the actual societal problems. You need to do the "deep inner work" it takes to address problems that impact objective reality instead of the delicate feelings of people who don't want to confront the things they feel guilty over.
The fields of social "science" are having an existential crisis. It's not science if you can't reproduce it:
> Frequently people act like being called racist is worse than actually perpetuating racism and that needs to change.
Calling someone a racist when they're not is just as bad as perpetuating racism. This is why people perceive your argument to be a personal attack, because it is.
> There is no process to engage in that sort of growth in character without promoting some level of discomfort.
If you're unwilling to question your own assumptions and experience discomfort, then you are also not growing in character.
Is this satire? Are you sincerely claiming that actually doing something bad is worse than being told you're doing something bad?
This is child logic. This is logic that privileges your feelings over actual objective reality.
That doesn't follow. You can act completely selfishly by not voting for unsustainable policies that appear to benefit you in the near term but would harm you in the long term.
This graph is misleading. It talks about middle class as a percent of national median income, which means large numbers of people counted as lower-class in the US would be counted as middle-class if they lived in Europe and made the same income.
 The cheap cat food, I mean, not the $10/meal cat food that rich Americans buy their pets.
Maybe you meant that you want that existence for others, in which case, you might have a point, but I think a lot of the people who have your worries in the tech industry only have them because they live in stupidly high cost-of-living areas like SV.
This is why enlightenment values have ultimately tilted toward capitalism. No collective can accurately define the best interests of every individual and design a policy to match. Better to let them sort it out themselves.
Ah yes--when rich liberals vote against their own interests, it's noble. When lower-income conservatives vote against their interests, it's ignorant.
Oh, and people love to talk about wait and access to doctors: not only did none of my experiences have a wait they didn't even have a schedule. I simply walked in to an office and was seen immediately, and the Tokyo metro area has 35 million people living in it.
People in USA have the opposite attitude towards authority and rules.
Go someplace in Europe that doesn't have this culture and it breaks down. Italy's healthcare is a circus. When I was in Italy not even that long ago a doctor came in to see me with a lit cigarette in his mouth.
The flipside is that there are many things are a consensus worldwide because they _are actually better_ but that the US still refuses to adopt, generally because it would mean following others' lead, or because there are special interests in keeping the current status quo.
To me nothing is more emblematic of this problem than the country's refusal to adopt the metric system: the alternative is objectively worse, but the country is pretty much the last developed country on earth to refuse to use it.
The reason we aborted the conversion to the metric system is because a generation of idiots couldn't stand the pain of switching, and the longer we delay the more painful it will be.
Lived there for 15 years, on and off. My son was born there. My father in law survived a bad heart attack there.
Yes, there are areas in the south where it's not so good, but any reasonably large country probably has some areas where things don't work as well.
People live long, healthy, happy productive lives there.
I was in Naples at the time and was a little disturbed by how lax the doctors (well, really everyone) seemed. I guess I shouldn't judge Italy's government/healthcare based on my experience in Naples, I have heard that northern Italy is on the ball for the most part.
The line you are drawing probably has at least as much to do with economics as culture.
And yes, the systems work in Germany and Japan because they're culturally and racially homogeneous (Japan).
The United States was founded by people who didn't like their home country and decided to leave, rather than bend the knee.
As such, we fight about everything. It's inefficient for some stuff.
1 - Italy was the 4th European country to introduce a smoking ban in public places.
2 - https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-19/u-s-near-...
"Spain’s health system efficiency ranked third behind Hong Kong and Singapore, followed by that of Italy, which moved up two spots from a year earlier. Italy ranked as the world’s healthiest country in a separate Bloomberg gauge."
Is the ban enforced? If not, it's just lip service. When I went there 3 years ago (Rome, Naples), people smoked in public EVERYWHERE, even on public transportation. Sometimes I would get on a bus and there would be some guy in the back blowing smoke out of a cracked window
There are people smoking in Italy as there are everywhere. They were probably smoking down the street and that's fine. But I have never seen anyone smoking in hospitals, restaurants, cafe, buses, etc .. it is illegal and people wouldn't tolerate that.
That being said, of course, there are always people that do not respect the laws as everywhere else in the world.
Might there be content in these professional conferences that would be relevant and beneficial for patient care? Is not going to professional development conferences a badge of honor or a mark of quality that I fail to grasp?
If you ask any underperforming manager why they are underperforming, they'll all say the same thing: not enough resources. Give me more staff, give me more budget. But they don't get it because they squander the budget they do have.
Other countries might be getting 30% more funding than the US gives their government, but the returns on that spending are 1000% more than what the US gets from their government. Fix that problem first and I think you'll be surprised at how willing people will be to fund their government appropriately.
The quality and quantity of services are so much higher in Europe that the minimal additional cost isn't burdensome, but our services are so few and so poor in the US that any additional cost I couldn't abide and I think we should be pushing hard for the government to do more with less.
In the end, this is what Eisenhower warned us about. It's a consequence largely of the military-industrial complex, and then similar complexes between government and other industries. These situations with the intentional incompetence to drive cost overruns is effectively a fraud committed against the American taxpayer, and it is absurd to expect us to want to pay one red cent more into what is effectively a scam.
Imagine having a government that through intense reform gave us top tier primary education, universal health care, and 10x more infrastructure, and they did it without raising taxes. All of that is possible today.
Now imagine that that same government proposed a new program for FTTH in all major metro areas. Passing funding for such a program would be a breeze. The government could say "this will cost you $x less than you are currently paying" and people would actually believe them!
This whole "But I've got mine" ideology that's circulating as "the essential America" right now is not historically accurate and is the biggest foot-gun the country has ever had.
This also is not a new thing. When I was in high school years ago, quite a few school buildings in the county were literally falling down trailers. With that going on, the school board decided to build a huge brand new building on some of the most expensive real estate downtown. There were some protests and the news did stories about it, but in the end the building was built. And, there are still schools with buildings that are nearly falling down.
I live downtown and have been petitioning the school district for our own school. Downtown has grown from 10K to 80k residents in a decade. The school board has submitted and withdrawn plans for downtown. Costs are a big factor in withdrawing. But each year they delay that construction on a downtown school is only going to get more expensive.
 In most places AFAIK, and certainly in all the places I've ever lived
He went from being this nice composed man, to be a GunNutz-take the government out of my health care jihadist in just seconds. It was bizarre, no one really argued with him anymore since he was so visibly upset. That is some serious indoctrination that's going down there, that is for sure.
Here's the rub. Everyone agrees the government is dysfunctional, but no one agrees on the fix. Your fix appears to be to give the dysfunctional government more money to be dysfunctional with. Others would prefer to give a dysfunctional government less money to waste.
Until we get past the give more/less money argument, we will never fix what's wrong with the US government. The problem is so much deeper than pay a little more or less.
Cheaper != better. Especially when it comes to something as important as healthcare. It also depends on what you are prioritizing. Universal care is good for checkups and when you are young and healthy. But it falls apart when you need major surgery due to much longer wait times and decisions made by a committee. It also makes it almost impossible to get private care, unless you are wealthy.
"Yes, the DMV sucks, but guess what, that is the level of service voters decided they wanted and that is what the DMV can deliver based on it's funding"
I'm not sure where you are going to the DMV in the US, but it hasn't been called that in about a decade where I live.
It's also very well organized. I can get in line from my state's website and get a text message to come to the office, so I no longer have to sit for 2-3 hours. But, this does depend on the State.
I would also see the actual stats on the middle class in Europe. As taxes get higher, it squeezes out the middle class and you pretty much just have two classes: the very rich and the rest. California is starting to resemble this and most of Europe has been like this for awhile.
My DMV is called FLHSMV but everyone calls it the DMV. Because that’s what they are known as nationally. They have moved some services online (renewal, address change) but most services still require an office visit, like voter registration.
Income distribution in Western Europe is quite healthy. A lot less so on the eastern and southern sectors. The US middle class is definitely shrinking even with tax cuts. So, I hypothesize taxes have nothing or little to do with it.
"The United States’ smaller middle income group still earns more than almost all its Western European counterparts. The average disposable income among middle income Americans in 2010 was $60,884, placing it comfortably ahead of Norway, which averaged $56,960. The one exception to Western Europe’s income trends was Luxembourg."
That is the median American household doesn't produce much more than their European counterparts, but they tend to consume much more.
There's a couple of reasons for this. One is that many land is cheap and abundant, which lowers the cost of living. Two is that US multinationals make a ton of profits overseas, which get remitted to mostly American shareholders. E.g. Apple makes a $1000 iPhone in Asia, which doesn't count towards US GDP, but $500 of that revenue gets paid in dividends to American pensioners.
Third is that Americans tend to earn much more return on their investments than foreigners. This means that America manages to get by with substantially lower saving rates than other countries. This is particularly true with oil producing countries. A country like Norway has high GDP, but it has to continually reinvest a high proportion of its production back into a very capital-intensive industry. The US's economy is heavily concentrated in services, which require very little capital investment.
GDP per capita:
30% higher than Germany isn't "much higher"?
Aren't the majority of people in the US covered by Medicare or their employers plans?
I'm from Canada so I'm curious what the yearly costs would be like. I typically lean libertarian on most areas of gov-run organizations but, much like prisons, public health insurance makes far more sense to be completely centralized vs the US random centralization and countless layers of legislation over their pretend private market.
They are wasting money: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0a/He...
In the US, there were about 1.4 million bankruptcies every year before Obamacare. There are around 700,000 per year now. But the majority of those are still widely considered to be related to medical costs (though exact statistics don't exist). That should give an idea of the burden most Americans face in terms of healthcare costs.
More anecdotally, my own costs this year - as a single adult having employer-provided health insurance - is already about $800 out-of-pocket for a few office visits and tests.
In Canada it's in 15min increments, you have to say beforehand if you need 30min or longer, because they break up the whole day in 15min chunks and bill each the same. Almost every time they are rushing you, so they can hammer out a ton of 5min appointments and bill them all for 15min. Which is kind of annoying.
Education fits this pattern too.
Do you think that you and your employer pay more than $30K a year for healthcare?
Don't get me wrong there are a lot of things wrong with US healthcare including the costs for uninsured but Europeans pay through the nose direct and indirectly for their health insurance as well.
With marginal tax of nearly of over 50% of your income when you include NI/Health Tax contributions, 20-25% VAT and much higher indirect taxes on everything from fuel to sugar you end up paying for it one way or another.
If I add the costs for my grandmother, then that sounds very likely.
The important thing about universal healthcare is that workers pay for those who cannot pay themselves, so it's to be expected that a 30yo developer would pay way more than he gets back out. It's only fair, I'm gonna be old someday and I definitely want my health insurance to cover my expenses when I cannot pay premiums anymore.
Half of the EU doesn’t have single payer and use a public private mix, many of them allow you to not pay for the public system at all above a certain gross pay.
All health insurance schemes are based on the fact that young and healthy individuals pay more than they get, it has nothing to do with universal healthcare or a single payer system.
That’s why there’s a lot of resistance to socialized healthcare in this country. The rich will be fine, the poor will benefit massively, and the middle class will take it in the rear, as usual.
And all of that ignores the biggest cost, which is living in a society where we blatantly don’t care about other citizens and their families being destroyed by health issues. The middle class thinks they have a lot to lose, but they’ve already lost it and are hanging on by a thread.
The lower income group has grown a bit and this is the real problem. This group is defined as below 75% of median.
The upper income group has also grown significantly. This is defined as above 200% of median. While we complain (rightly) about the share going to the upper few percent, the percentage of population that is upper income in the US may be significant compared to other "rich" countries. But we aren't given that graph for comparison.
But that doesn't change that it's interesting how much the US is an outlier in terms of the aggregate performance vs. distribution measure used.
Spoiler: Scandinavia, which happens to be top-right in this chart too.
That talk has been discussed on HN before: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14542391
The more complete quote is:
> There are two striking exceptions to the positive relationship between absolute median income and the size of the middle-income class:
> The United States. Although it boasts the fourth-largest median income, it has only the 31st-largest middle-income class of all OECD countries. Related statistics are that its population has the third-largest share of people in poverty and the fourth-largest in the upper-income class.
> The Central European countries of the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Hungary and, to a lesser extent, Poland and Slovenia. In these countries, the shares of the population in the middle-income class exceed what might be expected from their median income levels.
The graph cites the report linked above. Middle income is defined as household income between 75% and 200% of median on page 19 of the report.
(Or conversely: Replace all the European countries with a single EU data point -- you'll probably see an even smaller "middle class" for the EU than for the USA.)
Household income is a stupid metric. In America, the top 20% of households contains TWICE as many PEOPLE as the bottom 20% of households. The top 20% of households contains FOUR times as many income earners as the bottom 20% of households. The top 20% of households contains THREE times as many children and HALF as many retirees as the bottom 20% of households.
So when someone says America has too many "poor" households. Consider that those poor households EXIST because they are WEALTHY enough to afford it!
Consider Italy. More households in the middle income share than America. Is that because Italy is an economic paradise? Or because of a strong, centralized bureaucracy capable of administering income distribution schemes? Maybe. But it could be the case that the old and young can not afford to establish their own households. So they continue to live with the working members of their family and enjoy the "benefit" of being a middle class household.
I don't mean to imply that America is perfect and that Italy is not. I only want to say that this chart is an awful way to represent data and is, in my opinion, intentionally misleading.
If you mean against other high income nation's, then it is only true in the most superficial sense, as once you include all benefits available to people, and social and economic mobility, the US quickly falls down the charts.
Just against Europe (France, Germany, and UK). If everyone is poorer, I don't see the win. Remember Europe used to have a higher GPD per capita than the US not so long ago.
Reading this through the lens of income inequality; I don't think having a smaller, yet richer middle class, is necessarily something to be proud of.
I don't think this comparison (to ones own countries' median income, PPP-adjusted) can be escaped since "middle-class" is being interpreted as intra-country. This is what I would expect since when I think myself if I qualify as middle-class, I don't compare myself to the Yemenis, I compare myself to other Americans.
So the graph uses different definitions of middle class standard of living and conflates the results.
Bluntly, it's lying with statistics.
I think I see what you're saying:
The prices are already PPP (did you mean that instead of PPI?), thus the _additional_ adjustment of middle class as varying country per country (on a USD value basis) is then misleading/lying. E.g. Someone below the threshold of middle class in the USA may still be considered middle class in Germany.
The issue I see specifically is here:
>So the graph uses different definitions of middle class standard of living and conflates the results.
They use a _consistent_ definition of 75% to 200% (a percent basis) of the median income in each country.
What you interpret as different definitions stems from the fact that these countries have different median incomes.
And that's the whole point of the category of "middle-class" isn't it? Consider the edge case of some fictional country where their currency is gold bars and diamonds. "In America you'd be rich!" you may tell a middle class member of that country. "That's great, but I'm middle of the road around here actually" Is what they would respond. The fact that a homeless person in the US, with their scant possesions, would maybe be wealthy in Yemen (ignoring the myriad other issues) has no bearing on their current condition in the US.
If we compare these countries on a worldwide median household-income basis ($9,733 ), almost everyone in the developed world would be "middle-class" or higher. Would that mean there are no issues there? 
When the alternative is an "opposition" party that is suffering from "affluenza" , it's unlikely real fixes will happen anytime soon.
I've posted the graph here: https://kyso.io/eoin/gdp-per-capita-vs-gini
And a discussion link here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19732909
I still rent for $2700/month. I don't want to buy an overpriced home in the bay in the suburbs (I wish we had for-sale condos like Toronto everywhere... still don't know why)
I do well. I'm 32. I'm on an upwards path. But I don't feel upper class. I feel middle class. Maybe upper-middle. But I don't feel like I'm killing it. Should I?
In est: the upper class are courtiers. Courtiers for investments, placements onto boards of directors, management roles of other people’s wealth, and so on. All upper-class people are inherently both grantors, and recipients, of such favor.
And once you have such favor, money becomes kind of irrelevant. You can access huge pools of other people’s money, to do whatever you want to do, so why would you need your own money? (Even if, sometimes, you do. There are such things as “starving nobles”, who have the ability to command others’ fortunes but who have no personal fortune. Usually because they’ve already put their personal fortune to work in some way.)
If you’ve ever read the Cory Doctorow book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, the “whuffie” currency from that book is basically already reality for the upper class. (The only difference is that whuffie puts a legible number on aggregate total favor, which is intentionally made as illegible as possible in reality.)
That's by Cory Doctorow, not Charlie Stross.
1. Your life doesn't fit in line with your expectations of upper class.
2. 200k a year in the Bay Area is, in its weird, sad way, middle class.
3. The feeling of "killing it" is pretty difficult to obtain when you are an ambitious person.
But you are doing well. You are probably doing better off than most people, even in the Bay Area. I hope that you can find some peace within yourself, because the only person who can make you feel successful is yourself. It seems to me that you need to learn how to set trajectories for yourself with success outcomes that resonate with you.
I'm based in the Pacific Northwest and feel similarly as you. It also happens that we are the same age.
Most of my friends and family make far less then me. Aside from co-workers, I don't have many people in my life who I can confide in about my salary, income, and the future. I often attribute my confusion with a lack of feedback.
I've worked hard to get to where I am and treat my income as a finite resource. It's something that I know will change in the future. I'm also aware of the risk of having all my income come from a single source.
I think it's hard to know if we are really "killing it". It also doesn't help when we are surrounded by people who have a similar income as us.
At the end of the day, are you happy with what you are doing? Is the income you are earning worth the time you are spending every day?
Personally, I would like to reduce my time spent as a software engineer without jeopardizing my family's safety and future.
Now you need to be top 5% just to afford rent in some places (average rent in my city is $2371 and using the standard 30% of gross you need $94,840 annually, putting you in the top 5% nationwide).
My wife and I are "killing it" but we didn't feel that way until we made $300k combined here in Los Angeles.
But huge swaths of the earth are in poverty and have entirely different costs of living.
A more relevant measure... they have more wealth than the vast majority of San Francisco itself - 80th percentile household income in SF is $190k according to https://statisticalatlas.com/place/California/San-Francisco/...
You probably have an easy time comparing yourself to a billionaire's lifestyle and saying "I'm not rich". You probably have a hard time visualizing and comparing yourself to the typical American lifestyle of a typical earner or even low-earner and saying "I'm incredibly rich compared to most". But that's on you. You could go and learn more about how most people live. Go and find all the people - tens of millions of them in the US - who, when they have a cavity, don't go to the dentist because they can't afford it. Say hi to them, ask them about their life.
It is possible to get away from $9 coffees and recalibrate your wealth evaluation system.
Money, after a certain threshold, has very little incremental value.
I’m also 10 years younger.
So far I think it’s worth it just in terms of my sanity but it tickles me to see people making more than me complain about rent.
Step 2: Graduate and get a programming job in SF.
But otherwise that's spot on.
So, what looks like a higher number (even adjusted for PPP) might still be lower in practice.