THis is usually the kind of post I just mention in the daily links, but Kenneth Thomas over at Middle Class Political Economist (a very good blog by the way) draws our attention to this depressing (if you’re a U.S.-ian) figure showing median household wealth for the OECD nations:
(original from here)
Thomas raises two possible explanations. First, income inequality leads to wealth inequality. Since the U.S. is a very unequal society compared to most other countries, this would be reflected in median wealth (though Sweden and Denmark have low median wealth, accompanied by expansive safety nets and public services). The other explanation is that most other countries are civilized and do not require students to pile on massive amounts of debt to receive a college or advanced degree. I would also add that the lack of a comprehensive safety net and healthcare system means that various catastrophes and setbacks can also lead to high levels of debt (awesome).
There is one other thing to note–Thomas again (boldface mine):
One final point: Matthews skewers the claim by Globe and Mail author Michael Adams (whose firm conducted the study discussed in his article) and later commenters on both sides of the border who accepted Adams’ claim that this was a historical first. As he shows with U.S. and Canadian government data, Canada’s median household net worth was significantly higher in 2004-5, before the crisis, than here in the U.S. Given the huge disparities between the United States and some of the other countries, it is likely that net worth per adult has been higher in a number of these countries for quite some time. These data reflect trends that have been developing for a long time, and are not purely driven by the economic crisis or by any single set of policies. But they make for sobering reading, and deserve more than the superficial analysis most of the U.S. press has given them so far.
No doubt another dose of austerity and fiscal responsibility will fix this. If that fails, I say, cut Social Security further.
Yes, that is snark.