Free Enterprise and Prosperity
There is no question that the United States is one of the richest countries in the world. If you take the value of all finished goods and services produced in a year and divide it by the number of people in the country, you get a statistic called the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. The 2012 GDP per capita for the U.S. is $50,700. This makes the United States the country with the twelfth-richest citizens in the world on average. The country with the highest GDP per capita is Qatar, averaging $103,900. The country with the lowest GDP per capita is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with just $400 per person per year (Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, 2013). In fact, half of the world’s population lives on less than $2.25 per day.
A more telling statistic about the overall standard of living is the Human Development Index (HDI). Factoring in the GDP/capita, the HDI also includes the overall levels of education and health care. The United Nations Development Program compiles data in the form of an index, with countries earning a score from zero to one. A low score indicates a very low standard of living with minimal productivity, low GDP/capita, and large segments of the population without access to education or health care. The U.S. earned 0.937, giving it the third highest score in the world. To compare this, the country with the lowest standard of living is Niger, with just a 0.304 (United Nations Development Programme, “Human Development Report,” 2014). Considering these two statistics, it is easy to see that even the poorest Americans are very well off compared to most of the world’s population.