Macro & Micro economics
Economists tend to focus on real GDP per person as their primary way of comparing living standards among countries. But they are also aware that real GDP per person does not capture many factors that affect the quality of life. Go to the CIA World Factbook’s rank-order page at go to https://www.cia.gov/, select Library, Publications, The World Fact Book, and Guide to Country Comparisons. Scroll down to the People section.
Click on “Infant mortality rate.” Write down the rank and the infant mortality rate for the following four countries: the United States, France, Mexico, and China. Go back to the People section and click on “Life expectancy at birth-total.” For each of the four countries, write down its rank and life expectancy at birth.
Now compare the data you just wrote down for infant mortality and life expectancy at birth with the GDP per person data shown in Global Perspective 23.1. Does the country with the highest GDP per person have the lowest infant mortality or the highest life expectancy? Can poorer countries do well on these alternative measures of well-being?
Could people be misled about differences in living standards if they only compared different countries’ levels of GDP per person?