Day 326 – Stats on ‘U.S. Consumerism’

November 22, 2009

I often hear individuals on the news or read articles that lament about “U.S. consumerism.”

Today, during a discuss about an economics article with a friend, the question of consumerism came up. After the discussion, as I browsed my bookshelf, I spotted my Pocket World in Figures 2009 edition by The Economist, and thought, “I wonder what the stats show about how ‘consumerist’ the U.S. is compared to other countries?”

Here are some interesting results I found. Take from them what you will:

-The U.S. is not 1st, but 9th in the rankings of highest GDP per head and highest purchasing power per head.

-The U.S. is 12th in the human development index.

-The U.S. is the 3rd least trade dependent nation in terms of trade as a percent of GDP.

-The U.S. is the 2nd largest world exporter.

-On the lists of top consumers in different commodities markets, the U.S. only topped 5/21 lists. (Cocoa, coarse grains, coffee, natural gas, and oil)

-The U.S. is 20th in color televisions per 100 households.

-The U.S. is not even in the top 48 countries for mobile phone subscribers per 100 people.

-The U.S. is 15th in CD players per 100 households.

-The U.S. is 6th in computers per 100 people.

-The U.S. is 24th in daily teenager computer use.

-The U.S. is 16th in number of cars per 1,000 people.

-The U.S. is 5th in music downloads per head.

Conclusion:

I am starting to doubt that the U.S. is the dark pit of consumerism in the world today that it is frequently portrayed as. It looks to me like the U.S. is definitely not the ‘consumerist’ country. I am not disputing that it is there, but it is definitely not as serious as other places.