What’s the Standard of Living Like Where You Live?

BY Paul Solman  January 17, 2013 at 11:13 AM EDT


Photo by Betsie Van Der Meer via Getty Images.

Paul Solman answers questions from the NewsHour audience on business and economic news on his Making Sen$e page.


Making Sense
Paul Solman: Back in November, we featured reporter David Cay Johnston on how U.S. corporations have influenced government to squeeze — some might say “bleed” — the American consumer. We followed up online with an interview about “the fine print” hidden in your paycheck.

But despite the considerable and positive attention both stories generated, we were most struck by the spirited responses we received to Johnston’s charge that telecom costs in the United States are far higher than in, for example, France – to buy distinctly inferior service.

Not long ago, yet another such response made its way across the pond and over our transome. One Michael Gerety of Avignon emailed:

Michael Gerety — Avignon, France: I live in France and I pay 33 Euros per month for a cell and landline phone with unlimited calls inside and outside France. I can make free cell calls to the United States, and the package includes about 65 channels and Internet with a faster connection than what I had in the States.

I have lived in France for the last nine years and find that in many areas, France is more modern than the States. I can’t think of any measure of standard of living that’s lower in France than in the States except the number of square feet of living space per person. The French have a significantly smaller footprint than Americans.

Paul Solman: Michael Gerety’s email got me to wonder once again, as I do almost every time I return from abroad: Are Americans really better off than our post-industrial counterparts? Or are we falling behind?

So I put the question to you. Answer these questions in our comment section at the bottom of the page:

  • In what country do you live?

  • Have you lived in any country besides the United States?

  • Where, if anywhere, is the standard of living higher than in the United States?

This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions