Economist Daily Chart: Rich and infamous

The Economist published in their daily chart posting the result of a survey that asked people whether the rich in their respective country deserve their wealth.  Generally an interesting topic of discussion and the data did not disappoint.

My initial hypothesis was that the developed world would show a high percentage of people who feel the rich in their country deserve their wealth and that the opposite would be true for the developing countries. While this held up in some cases it was interesting to try and make sense of the outliers.

The Economist points out the general observation

Europeans and Latin Americans tend to have similar attitudes to the rich; the Anglo-Saxon world is a bit more forgiving. The biggest contrast, though, is between emerging economies (a group in which Russia sits, rather awkwardly). In China, where 600m people were lifted out of poverty between 1985 and 2005, about half the adults think their rich are rightfully so. But in Russia, an economy dominated by oligarchs who extract large windfall rents, only 16% do.

I wanted to dig a bit deeper to see if there is any relationship between the percent of people who believe the rich deserve their wealth and other economic indicators.

First thing I did was to graph GDP per Capita against the survey results.

The most interesting outcome of the graph above was really the points I’ve circled in yellow. Those countries(Mexico, Brazil, China, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Kenya) all have relatively low GDP/Capita yet the percent of people who agree the rich deserve their wealth is on part with some of the richer Western countries such as Germany, Britain and France. On the other hand Germany and France having lower than 40% of people agreeing that the rich deserve their wealth is also surprising. Spain and Greece which I circled in blue seem to be suffering from the crisis mood.

So my next thought was to see if GDP growth rates were contributing to this surprising result out of the countries with lower GDP/Capita, circled in yellow.

In some cases there is a correlation between GDP growth rates being relatively high and the % that Agree that the rich deserve their wealth. However it is not conclusive. A very interesting subject to continue researching.

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