U.S. federal poverty statistics exclude government benefits, charity, and unreported income, or about 80% of the material resources of low-income households.
The poorest fifth of U.S. households consume five times more goods and services than what poverty statistics reveal.
After accounting for all income, charity, and non-cash welfare benefits like subsidized housing and food stamps, the poorest 20 percent of Americans have a higher average consumption per person than the national averages for all people in most affluent countries, including most countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and its European members.
In other words, if the US “poor” were a nation, it would be one of the world’s richest.
Importantly, data were adjusted for "purchasing power to measure tangible realities like square feet of living area, foods, smartphones, etc. This removes the confounding effects of factors like inflation and exchange rates.”
Prior to self-proclaimed socialist Hugo Chavez taking power in 1999, Venezuela was the richest country in South America.
As of 2019, nearly 5 million people (roughly 15% of Venezuela's total population) have fled the country, 44% are unemployed, and inflation has reached 10,000,000%.
According to Jo-Marie Burt, an associate professor of political science and Latin American Studies at George Mason University. “The decline of oil prices, the massive social spending of the Chavez and Maduro governments, U.S. sanctions, and a combination of economic mismanagement and corruption at the top have contributed to the economic collapse.”
In 1970, Sweden was the world’s 4th richest country.
From 1970 to 1993, the top marginal tax rate rose to 84%, spending rose to 67% of GDP, and public debt rose to 70% of GDP.
By 1993, Sweden fell to the 14th richest country in the world. The average Swede was now poorer than the average Briton or Italian.
From 1993 to 2013, Sweden cut spending from 67% to 49% of GDP, cut the top marginal tax rate from 84% to 57%, cut its corporate tax from 26.3% to 22%, and scrapped property, wealth, gifts, and inheritance taxes.
The two decades from 1990 were a period of recovery. Sweden’s debt fell from 70% of GDP to 37%. GDP growth between 1993 and 2010 averaged 2.7% a year and productivity 2.1% a year, compared with 1.9% and 1%, respectively, for the main 15 EU countries.
In 2017, the top 50% of all taxpayers paid 97% of all individual income taxes, while the bottom 50% paid the remaining 3%.
The top 1% paid a greater share of individual income taxes (38.5%) than the bottom 90% combined (29.9%).
For context, the share of the total adjusted gross income earned by the top 1% in 2017 was just 21%.
The Tax Policy Center estimated the average federal tax rates paid by different categories of earners in 2019:
A 2015 paper published by the European Central Bank examined the role of welfare state policies in explaining differences in household net wealth within and between European nations.
The paper found: