Fun Economic Factscreated: ; modified:
If you know more fun economic facts, do share them with me!
- if an immigrant from a very poor country comes to your country and creates a small business in which they earn more than they used to earn but still not much, you will be better off, they will be better off, but your country’s GDP per capita will fall
- if a firm develops a new technology and starts selling the same product in the same quantity but cheaper, GDP will fall and GDP per capita will fall
- special case: if a firm makes a product free, GDP will fall and GDP per capita will fall. Examples: Gmail, Wikipedia, open source software, etc. etc.
- if an unemployed person stops looking for work, the unemployment will decline
- conversely, if you successfully motivate people to start looking for work, the unemployment will rise
- if everybody decides to only hire men for low paying jobs, the gender gap will decrease
- if you create a welfare program which gives money to single mothers and some of them stop working to take care of their children full-time, the poverty level will rise
- if you define poverty as sliding 15th percentile of earned income, the poverty level will stay at 15 percent, regardless of any economic advances
- “While the Official Poverty Rate fell from 19.5 percent in 1963 to 12.3 percent in 2017, our Full-income Poverty Rate based on President Johnson’s standards fell from 19.5 percent to 2.3 percent over that period.” (a)
- “Each year for the past two decades, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that over 30 million Americans were living in “poverty.” In recent years, the Census has reported that one in seven Americans are poor. … The typical poor household, as defined by the government, has a car and air conditioning, two color televisions, cable or satellite TV, a DVD player, and a VCR. … The typical average poor American has more living space in his home than the average (non-poor) European has.” (a)
- a goodhart-style fact: if you improve social services for the homeless, the number of homeless people will increase
- “I recommend just being a plain bum. Hang out at the library all day. collect any welfare you can get. Build out a little wilderness squat on the outskirt edge of the public transportation routes. Get a folding solar panel to charge digital devices. Those Anker brand chinese ones are like $50 now. You can pick up weed trimming work one month a year and just listen to podcasts and bullshit with other trimmers, that should cover your expenses for the year. … Having a job reduces your standard of living.” (a)
- another goodhart-style fact: if you decide to help homeless more and start collecting more data on them, the data will likely have better coverage and will show an increase in the number of homeless, compared to when you didn’t care about them
- suppose you have 10 people out of 100 paying taxes. If you use tax data alone, you miss the 90 people who are not paying taxes and misrepresent inequality. Now, suppose the 11th becomes rich enough to start paying taxes. He/she is likely at the bottom rung. Now, the tax data will show even greater income skew, which would be misleading. (Source)
- imagine a subsistence level society. People might only work until they feed themselves, then enjoy leisure. Normally, the government levies a 10% tax and provides roads and armies. A dictator comes along and levies a 20% tax to do the same things. People work harder to reach the subsistence level, and give up leisure. Labor effort and GDP obviously go up, well-being goes down (via Shriyash Upadhyay)
- when income per person is rising, household income can appear to fall in statistics.
- “If, for example, each of the two tenants had an income of $20,000 a year initially, and later both reach an income of $30,000 a year, leading to each living in a separate apartment afterwards, that will mean a fall in household income for these individuals from $40,000 a year to $30,000 a year. There will now be two low-income households instead of one, and each household will be poorer than the one they replaced. Again, a rise in individual income can be reflected statistically as a fall in household income.” (Thomas Sowell)