Study: Swedes Poorer than African-Americans
overty is often described as the "root cause" of the severe social and criminal problems afflicting America's black communities, but a recent study in Europe suggests a new point of view might be needed.
The study shows that law-abiding Swedes, who are often perceived as living in material comfort and affluence, are poorer than African-Americans, the most poverty-stricken group in the United States.
Conducted by a retail trade organization, the study was published in the liberal Dagens Nyheter
The Swedish Research Institute on Trade compared official government U.S. and Swedish statistics on household income as well as gross domestic product, private per capita consumption and retail spending between 1980 and 1999.
Using prices and purchasing power parity-adjusted data, the median household income in Sweden at the end of the 1990's was the equivalent of $26,800 compared with a median of $39,400 for U.S. households, the study found.
"Weak growth means that Sweden has lost greatly in prosperity compared with the United States," said the trade group's chief economist, Robert Gidehag.
"Black people, who have the lowest income in the United States, now have a higher standard of living than an ordinary Swedish household," the study said. If Sweden were a U.S. state, it would be the poorest as measured by household income, said Gidehag.
The median income of African-American households was about 70 percent of the median for all U.S. households, while Swedish household median income was just 68 percent.
Poor Swedes also experienced less income growth than African-Americans. Between 1980 and 1999, the gross income of Sweden's poorest households increased by only 6 percent while the poorest households in the U.S. enjoyed an increase in income that was three times higher.