Swedish study bashes European standard of living

Here’s an excerpt from an article about the Swedish study -

Higher GDP per capita allows the average American to spend about $9,700 more on consumption every year than the average European. So Yanks have by far more cars, TVs, computers and other modern goods. “Most Americans have a standard of living which the majority of Europeans will never come anywhere near,” the Swedish study says. But what about equality? Well, the percentage of Americans living below the poverty line has dropped to 12% from 22% since 1959. In 1999, 25% of American households were considered “low income,” meaning they had an annual income of less than $25,000. If Sweden – the very model of a modern welfare state – were judged by the same standard, about 40% of its households would be considered low income. In other words, poverty is relative and in the U.S. a large 45.9% of the “poor” own their homes, 72.8% have a car and almost 77% have air conditioning, which remains a luxury in most of Western Europe. The average living space for poor American households is 1,200 square feet. In Euroep, the average space for all households, not just the poor, is 1,000 square feet.

Since the media doesn’t have a great track record for telling the whole truth, I thought I would run this study by some actual Europeans. This stuff paints a poor picture for Europeans, is there any truth to it or is it complete garbage?

Just a few numbers I think everyone should consider…

USA - ~265 million
Low rate of taxation
25% considerd “low income” = 66 million
12% living below poverty line = 32 million (I’m assuming that’s out of the 66 million :confused: )

Sweden - ~9 million
High rate of taxation
40% considered “low income” = 3,6 million

Does the income of $25000 mean after you’ve payed taxes? If so anyone in Sweden earning less than $35700 would be considered “low income”…

They should’ve paid attention to the existence of “social safety-nets”, the amount of homeless/very poor people, and not only what is considerad as “below the poverty line”.

Do people in Europe really consider air conditioning “a luxury”? Is it true what they say about 1,000 square feet per person on average (that would be :sad: )?

Well, I can only give you my personal opinion: me, I consider air conditioning as a luxury. And I now I’m not the only one over here. I wouldn’t call this a poor depiction of us. Only perhaps a bit more normal and down-to-earth than the American the-bigger-the-better way of living.

Personally, I’d rather live in Europe.

I don’t think we need bigger cars…or bigger houses…or bigger TVs (especially that!), but we get them anyway. I wish stuff was closer to where I lived so I could actually walk/ride a bike, but it’s horribly impractical.

We learn about European everydayish culture in German I, too, and it sounds like you can walk/ride a bike a lot of places, and there’s local markets, and all kinds of stuff that I think I’d like. :content:

Ooh, and they’re a lot nicer to the environment over there, I also hear. More paper. More recycling.

But I’m 15, so no dice…

What is air-conditioning really? We have, like, circulating air, but not like the a-c in a car where you can really feel the chill/ heat. …That would be luxury, I think.

And we, who live here in north, don’t even really need air-condition machines :wink:
(if ‘air-condition machine’ in this thread means something else thant that normal thing that is in every house as “standard” thing :smile: )

And i think that that article doesn’t really tell ‘the whole truth’… For example many (social)services like (studying, healtcare etc.) are free/allmost free in many western european coyntries etc…

And I think that it isn’t just money/material things that makes life quality higher :wink:

And as ‘an european’ I can say that, atleast I think, that we are doing quite good also on this side of the atlantic :smile:

It’s like in a car, but for an entire house. In the States you cannot buy a house without an air conditioning system (at least not that I’m aware of).

Maybe they just aren’t as necessary in Europe? What are the temperatures like in Scandinavia/Europe?

in holland you don’t need airco, because the temperatures are not very high. Only in summer, but who’s going to spend a fortune on airco when you only need it 14 days a year?

so airco is considered a luxury thing here, not like standard built in houses.

in the US i can imagine you need airco, with the temperatures and all that.

as someone who has visited the US several times (matter of fact i’m there right now :tongue: ) i can see the differences.

about the 1000 square feet… yes, in holland that is true… small country you know… so you have to stack up all those ppl somewhere :tongue:

also, europe is big and consists of many different cultures and countries. you cannot just compare it to the US with the states.
for example you cannot compare italy with norway or holland with spain.

I think the word “conditioning” in “air conditioning” is misleading.

ACs remove the moisture from the air and lower the humidity. Some people are sensitive to being in high humidity one moment, and then in dry AC air the next. It can cause irritation to some sensitive or sick people.

If “conditioning” means cold dry air then I suppose it’s appropriate use of the word. … but “conditioning” to me means filtered through a HEPA filter and Ionized while being properly humidified at the same time.
Ahhhhh, now that is luxury. :wink:

… but it’s true about America’s poor neighborhoods. Air conditioning, TVs, loud Stereos, several cars, and now computers are not even too rare to see. These are the same people that get ~$800US in food stamps from the government each month. I’m sure not all of the poor has it this well, but it’s more often than not.

I’ve heard in England it’s illegal to be homeless? and they can actually serve you a fine? :confused:
Can you imagine the standard of living for the homeless if they must hide from the public or police?

I live in Sweden. But I don’t know if I can agree with that which the article says about poor people in Sweden. Yes, it’s true that we have lower average income. But you have to consider the fact that poor/sick/unemployed people etc. get a lot of grants. And furthermore, healthcare, education and such things are very cheap. So there are almost no homeless or poor people here (with poor I mean that you can’t even buy food).
I don’t know if these numbers are after you’ve paid the taxes or before. If it’s before, our low incomes compared to the states may be due to the fact that we pay a lot of taxes.

And, as has been stated before, it isn’t really necessary with air conditioning in northern Europe…

yeah… and that, who ever, wrote that article sounds like a person who is very right winged by his thoughts and who marwells american type of capitalism(lower taxes etc.) and dislikes this european/(ecspecially northern european) 'kinda “caring capitalism” model (where taxes are very high and then again social services etc. are strong…)

but anyway he doesn’t seem to be very objective in general…

I agree, Aneflan. It’s biased.

That’s an interesting study though I think that much of it is based on inaccurate numbers.

=>I would not consider $25, 000 per year to be just poor but, in poverty and that is for one person. A family of 3 or 4 would barely be able to make ends meet and their income would be too high to get any government assistance. At least in the area I live in, a person would have to earn at least $34,000 per year to be slightly comfortable barring no major disasters such as illness, major car repair’s etc. To truly be middle class yo must earn at least $40,000-$50,000 per year.

The thing to keep in mind here is that the federal poverty level has not changed in some 30 years. No administration wants to admit that there are more people living below poverty ( It’s not good for reelection ) so people who need help don’t get it.

Hmm I would like to know where they got that number from.

That is probably close to accurate though I do not think the numbers are quite that high.

That is complete garbage. The average living space for poor people in the area I live in is a room 6-10 square feet and will likely cost $450.00-$500.00 per month. The average one bedroom apartment will cost $700.00 per month and cover about 500 square feet. Of course this is assuming they have a living space at all !!!

One of the biggest problems we have had ( especially over the last 4 years) is the complete erosion of the middle class. If this trend continues there will only be to classes the rich and the poor.


Most of my work is with people who are poor and I do not know anyone who gets $800.00 in food stamps. Usualy between $60.00 - $250.00 and with the cost of food these day it is not nearly enough.

I am not sure that is completely true. From what I understand in most of the Europan countries having a place to live is a “right”. Here it is a luxury for many people. As for fining people who are homeless, I have not heard of that and it does not really make much sense. But who knows perhaps someone who lives over there can explain better

Habitat homes that are built for low income families have a minimum of 1000 square feet. prairienet.org/habitat/habitathomecost.html
HHCC standards are 1,100-1,200 square feet.

"The current maximum allotment levels for the continental United States, in effect from Oct. 1, 2003 to Sept. 30, 2004 are:

Household size / Maximum allotment level
1 / $141
2 / $259
3 / $371
4 / $471
5 / $560
6 / $672
7 / $743
8 / $849
Each additional member / +$106"


I know several households that get >$600 a month.

Milod789, get out of the city! :tongue: We can actually fit more than 1 person in our homes. :lol:

The study was clearly biased. It was done by Swedes, but it then blames the high cost of welfare for the differences in standards of living, so I can assume it was done by a bunch of right-wing Swedes who like the American system better.

I’ve heard the stats about the poor owning their own homes, the square footage, air conditioning, etc. They’re from the 2000 census report. The high square footage no doubt comes from the fact that so many of those below the poverty line own their own homes–you only need a space 35 feet by 35 feet per person to meet the average, and that’s not tough if you’re living in a house rather than apartment. I assume this means most Europeans are living in apartments, because otherwise they would need incredibly tiny homes to get only 1,000 square feet per person (in all incomes!).

As I recall a democrat senator criticized the census report because it proves that most people below the poverty line are too well off to be called “poor” in the traditional sense and they need to lower the poverty line in response to it, to be more realistic. In other words, “12% below poverty line” doesn’t mean much if the poverty line is arbitrary.

That is approximately correct however, that formula is for people who are strictly on social services does not take into account adjustments for: working, supplemental security income or, disability benefits. If you work at all or receive any entitlement you may get substantially less. Keep in mind to that these benefits vary from state to state. Also, they crawl up your rectal area before they will even consider giving you any these benefits. They make applying as degrading and humiliating as possible which is why I ( as an advocate ) go with most people to apply, as it makes things a little easier for them. Yes it is not uncommon for a large family to get about $600.00 in food stamps. I have also seen people with an income of just $700.00 (which is impossible to live off here) get as little as $15.00 in food stamps. There are also time limits placed on a lot of these benefits especially cash benefits but, they too vary from state to state.

So lets take a single person on social services who will get $365.00 in cash and roughly $130.00 in food stamps. That might sound like a lot, but as I said a room costs between 450 - 500 per month. So you can not find housing with that. You therefor have to live in a “welfare hotel” which is usually a place that is not fit for a person to live in ( mere words can not fully describe it). Anyway, that hole will cost you $350.00 so now you have $15.00 per month for toiletries and household items that are not covered with food stamps. Plus, you need to buy appropriate clothing for a job interview etc. Now, with the $130.00 in food stamps you will be lucky if that will last you 2 weeks with food prices here. Anyway, I think you get the picture. Ha I forgot about section 8 which will pay most of your rent for you. Under section 8 you only pay 33.3% of your income toward your rent. By the way that program has a waiting list of 3-5 years. Oh, and they are planning to make deep cuts to that program. We got a war to fund.

Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying the grass is greener on the other side. To be honest I do not know what the quality of life for the low income European is. So far none have posted there experiences.

Now that is a good program and they do great things but, it is a hard program to qualify for and they have a long waiting list. It’s not like everyone has access to that program. If you are single with no children you will probably never qualify.

Now that the doom and gloom speech is over I want to add that, I think we are the greatest country in the world and I am happy to be an American. But, as one of the wealthiest countries in the would we should be able to do better.

LOL Actually, I do not live in the city. Our area has see such a population growth that housing and general living expenses have skyrocketed.

Anyway, like I said above. You have to make 35,000 to $40,000 per year just to make ends meet here.