How Do the Poorest Americans Compare to the Rest of the World?

Citizens of the United States enjoy a much higher average income than citizens in a number of other nations, according to research documented in Branco Milanovic’s book The Haves and Have Nots. In fact, the poorest Americans living in the United States are financially better off than people living in Brazil, China and India. Overall, US citizens who account for the lowest 5% of income in the nation are richer than just under 70% of the remaining citizens of the world. When factors such as the gross domestic product (GDP) are considered along with average country income or individual GDP, the degree of income inequality is even more apparent.

Examples of Income Inequality:

  • Overall, US citizens remain the richest in the world. While the richest 5% of Brazilians come close to matching the income of the richest 5% of US-based Americans, their wealth or net worth isn't as close. With Brazil considered an emerging nation in terms of investment opportunities, this could change over time.

  • At the other end of the spectrum, the poorest Americans in the lowest 5% income range still enjoy a greater level of wealth than the richest 5% in the nation of India.

  • Income inequality not only exists between countries, but also within most nations. The contrasts can be significant, with the poorest citizens living in what may be described as primitive conditions, while the richest citizens enjoy high standards of living that include easy access to the best in technology and general goods and services.
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Discussion Comments


Most Americans are the poorest, because of their greed. Nothing is ever enough.


The poorest Americans still have a car, cell phone and cable TV.


That is not a fair assessment of personal wealth because Americans are in much deeper levels of indebtedness than people in those other countries.

That makes the American creditors the richest people in the country, even more so than the creditors in those other countries.

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