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Website calculates how your life might be like in another country. (ifitweremyhome.com)
142 points by ck2 on Jan 19, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 106 comments

This is like comparing whether you would like Diane Krall or Bob Marley based on beats-per-minute. Why do people have such a struggle separating qualitative from quantitative?

I'm American but I've lived in six countries: the richest was easily Switzerland, the most frustrating was easily France, but for me, the best was easily the Czech Republic. Hands down; no competition. But that's me. And the only way you can ever know which one you'll like best is to live there and go native. If you listen to Diane Krall waiting for it to start turning into the Arctic Monkeys, you won't like it. Most tourists and expats keep expecting the new country to be their old country with a different language. It's simply a different beast, and until you can lose yourself, lose your expectations, you won't know.

which also heavily depends on how old you/what period of life you are. Switzerland is less appealing in your 20ies but much more when you're 40 with wife and kids. You just can't have an exciting, always changing, but still well-organised and super-stable country.

Strangely enough, the czech people have very low self esteem (or patriotism) - they mostly believe that the life is better basically everywhere and that the expats in cz are bothered by a lot of issues.

Anyway, great to hear you like it there.

First, patriotism is for idiots. (I'm sorry but my team is not better than your team.)

Second, I wouldn't call it low self-esteem but rather a cultural meme that abhors acting snobbish. It stems from Communism. When I first got there, and someone would ask, "Jak se mas?" (How are you?), I would answer "Great!" But that was the wrong answer. That's not their culture, because no one was great under Communism. So the right answer is something self-deprecating and slightly embarrassing like, "Just ok. I walked around town all morning with my fly undone." They're very sweet, down-to-earth people and these are their steps to keep it like that.

About expats, they're like that everywhere, for the reason I mentioned. Many come and go after a year or two and are just long-term tourists who never take off the goggles of where they come from. I know a huge number of expats there and almost all of them love it.

may you please elaborate more on why the Czech Republic wins hands down?

The first time I went to Prague, I was so blown away that I canceled the next stops on my itinerary so I could stay. Later, after I moved there, I realized it was the whole country that just hit me in the right spot. There are no reasons; it just happened. Like with my wife, it was just love at first site. Love doesn't have enumerable reasons; it just is.

Borrowing PG's terminology/idea from http://www.paulgraham.com/cities.html, what would be the message of Prague/your favorite city there?

For Prague it's "create". Everyone I knew was in some form or stage of the creative process, whether film, music, play writing, painting, starting a company, etc. It may a Czech or expat, it may have been on the side or what they did full-time, but everyone was doing something creative and new.

There is a real energy in cities in that part of the world, even tho' Prague and Tallinn (etc) are as ancient as anywhere there's a vibe that the best is yet to come, people getting involved in lots of different projects, technology, art, music... Everyone's open to new ideas and opportunities.

Whereas you hop just across to Baltic to Helsinki and it's like a museum, there is a city that believes in its heart that its glory days were in the past. Same with Paris or Stockholm or even Amsterdam. Right now those cities have a lot of accumulated wealth tho' they've lost the spark that created it in the first place. Work in Western Europe, party in Eastern Europe, it's the only way.

Before going to college, my girlfriend and I hit a number of locations in Europe: Madrid, Venice, Rome, Prague and Paris.

My story doesn't quite have the same ending as yours - after all, we eventually had to leave - but looking back on my trip to Europe, I can safely say that Prague left upon me the most significant impression. The streets are clean, the people kind, and the city... just beautiful.

I may be able to answer to that too. I've been living in Prague 4 of the last 6 years. I've lived also in Madrid, Frankfurt and Barcelona for extended periods of time.

Things that are great in Prague for a foreigner (expat):

* Most people speak English, specially young people and specially in Prague. They will tell you that they don't speak English, but they do.

* There are a surprisingly big number of IT jobs for English speakers available. Even at startups (like the one I work at, 360cities.net).

* If you want to be a freelance, the tax treatment is very very favorable. Adding all the payments that you have to make to the government (including personal income tax, compulsory health insurance, and unemployment insurance), you'll end up paying less than 15% of your gross income at the end of the year to the state, in one form of another. That compares with the ~ 50% that gets deducted from employees for the same concepts.

* Life is affordable. Having a good life, I mean, not just surviving. Even on a local salary, you can get a decent apartment not too far from the center, eat out every day for lunch, have dinner out a couple times a week, go to the movies/theater/clubs on the weekends, and still have money left to save a little. Of course, those savings will not amount to much out of the Czech Republic, but as long as you are living here, they'll provide a comfortable cushion. If you get an English speaking job, you'll probably make significantly more than a local salary. You will not live like a king, but you'll life very very comfortably.

* The health system is good, efficient and cheap. So it is the public transportation (one of the best systems I've tried, and I've used a few in my life).

* The fact that even local salaries afford for a decent live means that you won't find extreme poverty in Prague. That also means that there's no dangerous areas that you should avoid (of course, in the touristic spots there are pickpockets, but I mean that there's no wrong neighborhoods that you have to avoid, like there are in Madrid or, as is said, in US cities, for example).

* Cultural life is rich and varied. There's a lot of clubs with life music, concerts, theaters, operas, … Of course, there's also thousands of pubs (almost one in every corner) that serve what I would argue is the best beer in the world. And very cheap (less than 1.5 euros per half liter).

* The city is gorgeous.

* The girls are even more gorgeous.

* You are in the middle of Europe, which means that there's a lot of places to visit within 4 hours (train or plain).

* The attitude of Czech people is very relaxed. Live and let live. Consumption of sof drugs, for example marijuana, although not strictly legal is not prosecuted by the police.

* Personally, I think another advantage is that the Czech Republic is the most atheist country in the world. 70% of Czechs declare themselves atheists when asked. That means that the interference of religion in the lawmaking or social attitudes is minimal.

There are also some disadvantages, of course:

* The hard long winters.

* Service in restaurants and pubs, although improving slowly, is still not comparable with more western countries. Unhelpful or plain rude waiters and shops assistants are very common.

* The food lacks variety, and specially vegetables, fruits and seafood (like most Central European kitchen).

* Some rules in the administration are plain stupid. And civil servants will be, generally, unhelpful. A lot of the old socialist mentality can still be found in the government's employees.

* The language is very difficult to learn. Most people speak at least some English, but really fitting in is difficult without speaking Czech.

* When you want to travel abroad, everything is suddenly very expensive.

"A lot of the old socialist mentality can still be found in the government's employees."

Yes, let's blame everything on socialism. Because unhelpful civil servants never occur under any other kind of economic occupation.

That's a perfect list. One more thing: everyone knows everyone. Say Hi to Jeff and Steve for me! :-)

I'm also interested in this, since I moved to Czech Republic a few months ago. I was planning on also moving to Germany some time in the future.

Good, very inexpensive beer.

may you please elaborate more on why France was the most frustrating?

It's where I live now (I live in Nice and work four days per week in London). In many ways, it's paradise: the food, the weather, the people -- amazing. But the bureaucracy is killing me.

The paperwork and incommunicado government officials are like something out of a Kafka novel. My wife applied for her entreprenuer license six months ago. (We thought it would take two weeks.) Nothing has happened. It took two months to get internet connectivity after six or seven scheduled meetings where they just didn't show up. Open a company? Forget it. There's a lot more I won't go into. At first we put it down to that we are not native French speakers but after talking to some others, it seems that's not the case. So, in a word: frustrating.

That's just my personal experience; YMMV.

I can corroborate horrible experience getting internet connectivity in Nice; it took about 2.5 months!

Getting internet connected in the mountains of Colombia took us a week :)

A friend of mine opened a company (EURL) in 2 weeks and for about 300 euros. Honest. It'd be twice as expensive in, say, Estonia (I run a business there).

In addition to the qualitative/quantitative issue, this site also conflates the general with the specific.

There are plenty of quantitative metrics that might be relevant to an individual's lifestyle, or more general metrics that could at least be correlated to individuals' preferences and choices. But this site is only comparing aggregate metrics of one country to those of another.

The site asks the question "if you were not born in the country you were, what would your life be like?", but the answers it provides have little to do with my life.

I expected to fill out a questionnaire about my lifestyle and see results that estimated how the details I provided would play out in a foreign country.

> And the only way you can ever know which one you'll like best is to live there and go native.

Would be nice if we could learn from others' experiences to help us make a better decision right off the bat, rather than moving all over the world to try and experience everything first hand.

Having been a "professional expat" for the past several years, I can assure you that it's not that simple. Yes, hearing their stories can bias your decision up or down by a few points. But, just like choosing a Linux distro: you can only know if it's for you if you live in it. There are no ways (that I know of) to successfully quantify what one seeks in a situation, otherwise eharmony.com would have taken over the world.

I think the problem with comparing the United States with other countries in general- specifically Sweden/Norway or even the UK or Canada is that the United States is just so much bigger. So, the characteristics of the "average" person are hardly representative (obviously). It's hard to imagine that this site can adequately compare life in two places. A better comparison may be single metropolitan area or state. I.e I think it would be more relevant to compare NYC with London, or Massachusetts with Sweden.

To the credit of the website though, it is cleanly designed and pretty interesting to play with. Cool.

Definitely be interesting, but I think many of the figures would remain the same. The lack of state provided health care exists whether you look at the US or only NY.

It'd be nice to get some user contributed/voted on facts as well on the website... for example (some of my own):

  US: You can't buy good cheese or chocolate
  GB: You can't buy good milkshakes or burgers

True about NY, but not about Massachusetts actually. If you go to page 3 of (1), you see that people under 300% of poverty level are provided care through "Commonwealth Care." This actually adds to my point, because of the US's federal system, different states, regions, and cities have not only different demographics, but different laws as well.

I like the idea of adding the "what is good where" point as well. For example, they don't discuss things like access to beach, or frequency of bone chilling blizzards.

(1): Somewhat large PDF... https://www.mahealthconnector.org/portal/binary/com.epicentr...

You've obviously never tried Gourmet Burger Kitchen in the UK!

I'm an American in the UK, I'm not a fan of GBK. I much prefer Byron (small London chain), which I would consider a good burger by any standards.

I find GBK's menu very... "creative". I always go for the basic plain burger which is frankly great for meat purists like me :)

Don't think I have. I'll check it out next time I'm in cambridge or bluewater (My closest it looks like).

Thanks for the recommendation

Cambridge has one on Regent Street. Good burger; you won't find a decent milkshake, though.

Bob Bob Ricard are somewhat OTT, but still their milkshakes are divine and rival what you can find in NYC: http://maps.google.com/maps/place?cid=5205391226741305498

Shame you have to go to a high class restaurant/cocktail bar for it though.

The taste of American chocolate has always puzzled me - apparently it is down to butyric acid:


It tastes like they completely forgot to add sugar or milk. It's like eating raw cocoa, or cheap hot chocolate powder.

Freshness counts for a lot. I've seen that happen with chocolate that has melted and then re-solidified in the package. It's kind of powdery and dry, and it doesn't taste right. Visiting the amusement park & chocolate factory in Hershey, PA is probably the only time I was impressed by Hershey's chocolate. Some of it was still warm :-)

I went to a lecture by a chemist working in chocolate production (this was about 14 years ago though) - they said that Hershey taste and hence the American chocolate taste was down to off milk.

When chocolate factories were set up the milk couldn't be kept cool in transport and so went off before it could be used in the chocolate. They remedied this when the process had been improved but people wanted the traditional flavour and so they went back to off-milk flavoured chocolate.

It was a great lecture they handed out pouches with about 14 different samples including chocolate at different stages of production and, the quite frankly disgusting, original style of Hershey chocolate.

> The lack of state provided health care

There is no "lack of state provided health care" in the US.

Walk into a hospital - they're obligated to treat you. If you're poor, you can ignore the bills. (Or you can go to a public hospital and they likely won't bother if you fill out some forms first.)

Of course, better treatment costs money, but that's true everywhere.

Walk into a hospital - they're obligated to treat you. If you're poor, you can ignore the bills. (Or you can go to a public hospital and they likely won't bother if you fill out some forms first.)

This is simply incorrect. Hospitals are only obliged to treat emergencies. They will not treat anything else if they think you cannot pay them.

If it were that simple, we wouldn't have people going bankrupt from paying their medical bills.

people going bankrupt from paying their medical bills

Do you have evidence that this occurs to any significant degree? [citation needed]

"Study Links Medical Costs and Personal Bankruptcy: Harvard researchers say 62% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2007 were caused by health problems -- and 78% of those filers had medical insurance."


I figured you would cite Warren. The media bought her "study" hook line and sinker, and there isn't much else to support this claim. (Seriously, if you don't believe me, try to find any replication of it.)

Her study is deeply flawed. The biggest problem is that it doesn't address causality or even correlation - for all we know, 62% of statistically similar people who did not go bankrupt also had a "major medical cause" of their non-bankruptcy. She doesn't address this at all.

Here is the study: http://www.scribd.com/doc/16155232/Bankruptcy-2009

Here is a more detailed critique of it: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2009/06/elizabet...

Here is Megan McArdle's followup, based on a prediction she made (she was correct): http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/12/will-hea...

Seriously, try again. I still have yet to see any source making this claim besides Warren.

Thanks for the links. I didn't realize Warren's affiliation with PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Program) or her study's loose definition of "medical bankruptcy" (e.g. people who filed for bankruptcy who paid more than $5000 out-of-pocket or lost two or more weeks of work for medical reasons, even if they did not claim "medical reasons" for their bankruptcy filing).

I don't have a study, but I have myself. Ancedotes don't equal statistics but I can see how it happens.

For me:

As of January 1, 2011. Happy, healthy, planning a couple ski trips.

As of January 18, 2011. Happy, healthy. $3,000 in medical debt.

It wasn't a really hard road to get from 0 to $3,000 in 3 weeks either. I currently work for one of the top 20 largest companies in the US. I have a United Healthcare PPO (the largest carrier in the country) and Delta Dental (also the largest dental carrier). So I don't work for some fly by night startup with an off brand insurance, this is blue-chip benefits at the most stable kind of job you can have.

I had previously scheduled my wisdom teeth to be removed, had them removed no problem. They paid 80%, I paid 20% plus the deductible. Total cost to me was $450 out of pocket. No big deal and expected.

Not a week later, couldn't breath, thought it was either an asthma attack or allergic reaction to something I just ate at a restaurent. Go to the hospital, its not either. After a cat-scan, x-ray, a couple hours with a GI and another doc I find out it is something completely different and previously unknown. Controllable, not a big deal, but the symptoms were quite scary.

Get the bill, $2,100. My insurance declines $1,900 worth of charges since it was an "illness" and they don't cover that in the ER unless you must stay overnight because they don't want people using the ER as their primary care physician (understandable). So apply my $500 deductible, and I'm on the hook for basically the whole thing. Call it $2,000. (this is pending appeal). Mind you, if they approved it they would have paid 90% and I would have paid my $500 deductible, so I should have sandbagged it and stayed overnight apparently (while running up twice the bill).

C) Had to get some additional dental surgery. After the last experience expected to pay 20%, but for whatever reason they only cover 50% (since it was damage to my gums from retainers as a child, which apparently is not their problem) and I'm on the hook for an additional $925.

Now, writing checks for $3,000 won't bankrupt me by any stretch. (mind you, I'm actually writing more like $4,000 but a bunch of it is fair and expected, the $3,000 is the amount above and beyond what I think I'm supposed to be paying). But it would for a lot of people. Even for me it sucks, I had planned to use that money for something more interesting than papering over the holes in my insurance policy.

I can completely understand how people end up in bankruptcy. In my opinion, if the plan says it will cover 80% and I have to cover 20%, with a deductible and a maximum out of pocket expense for me annually, then thats what should happen for non fraudulent charges. I went to the hospital for a good reason. All of the dental work has been recommended to me by a general dentist, seconded by an periodontist, and concurred by the oral surgeon who actually did it. None of this stuff is me running up unncessary bills. So I have the max out of pocket put aside in an account every year, and all of sudden my bills blow that by 4x because they are declining charges, and I'm sucking money out of my general emergency account, it sucks.

I can handle it, I'm glad I planned for emergencies and saved money and live within my means, but I can understand how this doesn't work for people living paycheck to paycheck and its not their fault. Not long ago I was getting by with the max out of pocket in an account, no emergency fund, and saying if shit happened I'd put it on my credit card while I pumped all my spare cash into paying down student loans. So I'm just lucky this is all happening Jan of 2011 and not Jan of 2010. And anytime you can make a statement like that, it is hard to blame the people where the dates didn't work out for them.

> $3,000 in medical debt

You "forget" that the folks who actually can't afford $3k are also the folks who get subsidized care AND who are bankruptcy proof.

> Even for me it sucks, I had planned to use that money for something more interesting than papering over the holes in my insurance policy.

The "holes" in your insurance policy were your choice, a choice that saved you money on that policy. If you'd made a different choice, that money wouldn't be in your pocket to spend on "something more interesting".

There is no free lunch. Health care costs money. Having the US govt pay for it doesn't make it cheaper.

I know that many of you think that govt healthcare in other countries works well. Do you really think that the US govt is likely to do as well?

It's true that medicare doesn't spend much money cutting a check, but the total expenses are another story. (The low-ball estimate of medicare fraud is an order of magnitude higher than the profit of health insurance companies.)

Oh, and you're more likely to win a dispute with a for-profit provider than you are with a US govt service.

I know that govt healthcare in other countries works well.

Good (and I upvoted you from 0) but the question is how good the US govt will do.

What about US current govt healthcare convinces you that the US govt will do well? If you think that it will do better in the future, why?

I was responding to the statement "many of you think".

Whether that's reproducible in the US is an open question. But the fact that US citizens accept third-world level healthcare is baffling to me.

ps: I have first-hand experience with European healthcare, US healthcare and third world healthcare. I'd pick European first, third world second (depending on the country though) and US third, if I had to choose.

> But the fact that US citizens accept third-world level healthcare is baffling to me.

US healthcare, even the free stuff, is well above third-world level. The typical is very comparable.

Yes, the US life-expectancy stats aren't fantastic, but healthcare isn't the only variable. (Look at the disease cure rates - we do very well on cancer for example.)

Only one problem - your anecdote provides (very weak) evidence against Warren's conclusions.

You had a major medical cause but you didn't go bankrupt. Lots of people do. To properly estimate the number of medical bankruptcies, you need to do the following calculation:

    # Medical bankruptcies = # of bankruptcies x [P(bankruptcy | medical cause) - P(bankruptcy | no medical cause)] x P(medical cause)
All Warren measured was P(medical cause | bankruptcy). Then she led a bunch of innumerate reporters to believe that P(medical cause | bankruptcy) x # of bankruptcies = # of medical bankruptcies.

Your anecdote cuts against Warren's conclusions [1] because it suggests we increase our estimate of P(no bankruptcy | medical cause) and thereby reduce our estimate of P(bankruptcy | medical cause).

[1] I'm not suggesting a single anecdote proves much of anything. I'm just pointing out the direction it's infinitesimal value points.

Not to be pedantic, but the United States isn't bigger than Canada (its just more populous).

It is about 60,000 km^2 bigger, while we have our pedantic hats on. Approximately the US state of Vermont is the difference in size.

If Sweden would have been a US state, it would have been the poorest of them all.

At least that was true a few years ago.

EDIT: I only had links in Swedish to sources, but here's one in English: http://www.shsweb.fi/forum/1/28783/28785/ Another: http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2007/11/sweden-mississippi-if-sw...

But do note that Sweden has seen a very strong growth the last year while the US has slowed somewhat.

EDIT 2: for those downvoting, see my response below.

List of richest countries (IMF):

#7 : Sweden

#9 : United States

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28nom...

I hate to reduce this to numbers, especially GDP per capita which is even more of a joke, but in any sensible form of measurement, Sweden has been richer than the US for a long time.

Wow, thanks, I didn't know that Sweden had passed the US (edit: it hasn't see link below). This must have happened the last 4-5 years.

Still, the links in my previous post are about purchasing power, not GDP/capita. But you're right, they are at least much closer now.

Actually, this is pretty good news for the US, because Sweden was in a terrible mess in the mid 90s but managed to clean things up in a relatively short time (less than a decade). Of course, the US economy is much, much larger, but it's worth noting that things can get better rapidly once you're on the right track again.

EDIT: here's a graph from 2009 showing GDP/capita where Sweden is still far behind the US: http://www.ekonomifakta.se/en/Facts-and-figures/Economy/Econ...

EDIT: purchasing power adjusted figures: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_... Sweden still far behind the US.

No. Sweden ranks above the U.S. on 2 of the 3 lists on this page, and as it explains, a more sensible list would be based on PPP. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP... Here, Sweden is above the U.S. on 0 out of 3 lists. Perhaps an even better list is PPP per hour worked http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP... Sweden is below the U.S. on 1 of 1 lists. Perhaps an even more sensible list would be one showing U.S. States individually, since EU nations are generally comparable in size and population to individual States. As of 2009, only Luxembourg and the UAE exceeded Connecticut in PPP GDP/capita (only the former exceeded the District of Columbia). Luxembourg is a tax haven, and the UAE is an oil nation.

Sweden ranks above the US on the most current list on that page. The other two lists are older data.

Also, size and population don't figure in to the comparison. You have to divide by population or the result is that the richest countries are countries like China and India, and the poorest are countries like Monaco and Luxembourg. And that's silly. If you can choose portions of countries, such as a state, it's too hard not to cherry-pick.

PPP seems like a good idea. It was devised to reflect that ten dollar buys a giant meal in Kiev but barely a BigMac in Zurich. But once you research it you'll find PPP seems specifically formulated to make Americans feel better about themselves. The basket of goods used to compose PPP is so American-centric that instead of de-skewing the results, it skews them further. The result is a joke.

But to be fair, it's easy to agree to disagree on this. Which country is richer is impossible to quantify in a meaningful way because it has to take into account quality of life, and being qualitative, will change per person.

>You have to divide by population

All the comparisons I mentioned do.

>once you research it you'll find PPP seems specifically formulated to make Americans feel better about themselves


>Which country is richer is impossible to quantify in a meaningful way because it has to take into account quality of life, and being qualitative, will change per person.

I was responding to your post, in which you asserted that Sweden is richer.


HIV rate in Japan is 0.1%

HIV rate in Singapore is 0.2%

The app tells me I am 100% more likely to get HIV in Singapore... which I guess is technically right but it certainly doesn't sound very inviting...

Yeah, the percentage statistics are worded kind of oddly. I tried spain, which has about 18% unemployment rate vs the US's 9%. It tells me I have a 94% greater chance of being unemployed in spain. It took me a couple seconds to get my head around the meaning of that.

It seems like a better wording might be something along the lines of "You're 2x more likely to be unemployed", or something to that extent.


If The United States were your home instead of Israel you would...

  - spend 2.3 times more money on health care
  - use 97.95% more electricity
  - consume 96.7% more oil
  + make 63.38% more money
  - be 5 times more likely to have HIV/AIDS
  - have a 47.24% greater chance of dying in infancy
  - have 29.11% fewer babies
  - have a 25.68% greater chance of being unemployed
  - experience 14.8% more of a class divide
  - die 2.62 years sooner
Q) Would you rather live in The United States?

A) No. I would simply try to find a way to "make 63.38% more money" where I live now, as the rest of list seems like US is not a better place to live.

But US is not San Francisco or New York right?

So perhaps, the comparison should not be made country-wide.

As I would definitely rather live in the bay area than in Tel Aviv where I live right now.

"So perhaps, the comparison should not be made country-wide." I think this is key. Even when talking about small countries like Israel there is much inconsistency regarding the expected quality of living (compare Tel Aviv/Ha'sharon with most places in the Negev, even Be'er Sheva).

By the way, I know I'm being a little cynic here, but "experience 14.8% more of a class divide" is not necessarily a bad thing for an individual. I would argue that if you're on the better end of this divide and won't experience its implosion (i.e. people revolting) in your lifetime that it may be a plus.

I'm surprised that longevity in the US is lower than many other countries (the same is true for Italy as well). I wonder if the food industry and the obesity problem contributed to this problem.

Once you adjust for poor blacks and Mexican illegal immigrants, the US is fine. The poor health care, nutrition choices, and young people being shot skews the statistics.

If you are a "white" person the stats are as good or better.

This post is not racist; other countries have relatively homogeneous populations, the US does not.

IMHO, despite your disclaimer, I still think your post is racist because it's blacks and hispanics who are skewing the statistics, rather than the other way round. There's an assumed perspective -- the white one -- as the default, or proper, perspective.

The parent post mentioned Italy, which has a large percentage of white people in it.

Hilarious the green/red colouring scheme which I presume means good/bad. Take for example Australia vs Democratic Republic of the Congo:


Democratic Republic of the Congo spends 99.39% less on health care = good...?

The app is probably tuned to developed countries.

Within developed countries, the marginal utility of extra health care is close to zero. Spending more on health care is as likely to harm you as it is to help you. Since the benefit of extra spending is nil, it makes sense to focus on the cost.

As you note, once you get into the regime where marginal utility of extra health care is positive, this method of comparison makes little sense.

I'm curious if the expression "grass is greener on the other side of the fence" is universal or just something we say in the states?

Would have been a good domain name (IsTheGrassGreener .com) but that's not to criticize on the content or presentation, very well done (and seems to be dealing with quite a load this morning).

One data point: Swedish has a very closely worded idiom: "Gräset är inte alltid grönare på andra sidan", which translates back as "The grass is not always greener on the other side".

No. Like in English, it's "Gräset är alltid grönare på andra sidan"/"the grass is always greener on the other side". You should interpret it as "the grass on the other side always looks greener than it actually is". Your version is sometimes used as an after-the-fact statement that something didn't work out as planned, but it's not the traditional form.

According to wikipedia, French has this expression too.

Fascinating. Must be a very old expression.

I thought it was from the story of the "Three Billy Goats Gruff". I don't know if that is the origin of if the story was built around the idiom. Seems a possible etymology though.

Fail. This website doesn't calculate it just presents stats and it doesn't ask me about my life so it's not even a valid comparison.

More importantly it mutilates statistics. The unemployment rate for western countries is very different to the unemployment rate for 3rd world countries. Can't really compare them.

I find it interesting that by following the green/red color code, apparently, the less you spend on health care the better. Is health care a bad thing?

Probably the site's author sees it from the PoV that it's just too expensive in the US. Other systems offer the same level of health care, at a far lower cost to the patient.

Quality and price aren't related when the price and quality are controlled. Most countries control prices or quality (running the services) unlike the US.

Nice :)


eg go to the US if you want money, UK if you want quality of life.

Surprised at this though "The number of adults living with HIV/AIDS in The United States is 0.60% while in The United Kingdom it is 0.20%."

"go to the US if you want money, UK if you want quality of life"

Don't you think that is just a bit of a sweeping generalization?

Isn't that the whole point of the website? To make sweeping generalizations about entire countries?

I think the money part is skewered due to a lot of wealth being had by top percentages.

This is kind of similar to a little app I created a couple of years ago called the Homeland Re-Assigner:


From the app description:

"We're born into our native countries by the luck of the draw. The Homeland Re-Assigner uses world population data to simulate this process. It produces statistically accurate representations of where else you might have ended up. Countries are weighted according to their current populations. So, for example, you're more likely to end up in a country with a large population, e.g. China, India, or the United States, than a country with a smaller population."

Obviously, though, IfItWereMyHome.com is a lot more robust and much prettier.

Oh god a link cloud, I wish people would stop using those.

Also, http://www.ifitweremyhome.com/compare/US/FI recommends Tom of Finland books to learn more about Finland.

The front page colors change based on where you're from. A nice idea, but many of the color combinations are unreadable. Finland has dark grey on dark blue, for example.

Maybe some will like this but for me it's pointless regurgitation of easily available irrelevant data. (that does not apply to me because I wasn't born and bred in that country)

What would be interesting would be, given my present wealth and general status, how would life be for <me> in that country if I moved. In Romania for instance, I live (taking into account all the factors whioh matter to me) a much higher quality of life than I did in the UK.

I think http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_mobility also plays an important role.

    You can move from one *class* to another in USA(e.g Obama could become President)
    You must not move from one *caste* to another in your life time in India(e.g. Ambedkar could not become Prime Minister)

Very interesting and nicely executed, even if the methodology does have its limitations (I won't repeat what meterplech has said).

It would be interesting if you could enter some of your demographic data and get a more specific comparison (e.g. gender, sexual preference, age, race, education level).

That might bring up some more drastic and surprising comparisons.

Health care would cost me 99% less in Malawi, because there is none? I'd use 99% less electricity too, so green!

I think the coarse grain comparison of this site makes it pretty poor. Comparing the whole of one country to another is naive. Different areas of each country can have totally different living conditions. Also, your social class has a lot to do with your position in a country.

Know how to count? Count on yourself, not averages. Every free capitalist democratic country gives great opportunities to be rich and have a lot of free time.

Especially for hackers.

PS: the site states that the less income inequalities, the better. Quite contrary is actually much better option for any country.

http://www.ifitweremyhome.com/compare/US/PK Its good to be an immigrant, though the class divide number is surprising.

Also, the "more information sections" are written well - anyone know the source?

>If Canada were your home instead of The United States you would...

experience 28.67% less of a class divide

use 27.2% more electricity

have 25.67% more fewer babies


25.67% more fewer babies? Awesome! But whoever let that phrase through wasn't exactly the quickest zergling in the control group... if you catch my meaning.


I /think/ that the way likelihood of HIV/AIDS is calculated needs to take population into account in a better way. Fun comparison, though!

Great site. Be cool if it included average weather - sun vs rain or something like that?

While the site itself is nice designed and I enjoy playing with various countries, I see that the main purpose for designing this site are the amazon links below the comparison. Am I right?


Says there is 18.22% less of a class divide in India - but IMO, India has a way higher class divide than in the US. I dont buy a lot of these stats.

The website doesn't say anything about how much you would like living in a particular country, which is entirely subjective. It just compares stats.

I found it interesting that in Germany you are expected to make 25% less than in the U.S., but you have 25% more free time! :)


It's missing YCombinator :(

The site's slow loading and keeps segfaulting Google Chrome on Ubuntu 10.10 for me. I like the idea though.

You're doing it wrong http://i.min.us/ibZWRM.png

I suspect that this website doesn't do caching on its comparison pages.

I made this site. I do cache the comparison pages, but I actually started hitting the bitrate cap on my slice. I moved a bunch of the images and other static content to S3 this morning to help out.

oh well, I guess I'll settle for less money if it also means less AIDS.


Wow. It's like I put a tag cloud on my website, then when I wasn't looking it went and had sex with every tag cloud in town. When I turned around oh my god tag clouds everywhere. It's like the Tribbles of web features.

I'm sure that could have been implemented better. Cool idea, though.

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