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Median Household Income
Median income is the amount that divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount. Mean income (average) is the amount obtained by dividing the total aggregate income of a group by the number of units in that group. Mode income is the most frequently occurring income in a given income distribution.
Countries by gross median household income in Int$ (PPP)
Countries by gross median per-capita income in Int$ (PPP)
In 2013, Gallup published a list of countries with median annual household income, based on a self-reported survey of approximately 2000 adults from each country. Using median, rather than mean income, results in a much more accurate picture of the typical income of the middle class since the data will not be skewed by gains and abnormalities in the extreme ends. The figures are in international dollars using purchasing power parity and are based on responses from 2006 to 2012 inflation adjusted to 2010 levels. Below is a list of the top 30 countries. The figures do not take taxes and social contributions into account.
Please note that the list below does not correspond to citizens of each country, but to all its residents. States rich in fossil fuels such as Qatar and Kuwait have a very large gap in terms of median annual earnings of citizens and non-citizens (reaching more than tenfold).
The annual median equivalence disposable household income for selected OECD countries is shown in the table below. This is the disposable income of an equivalent adult in a household in the middle of the income distribution in a year.
An academic study on the Census income data claims that when correcting for underreporting, U.S. gross median household income was 15% higher in 2010 (table 3).
Median household income and the US economy
This graph shows the income since 1970 of different racial and ethnic groups in the United States (in 2014 dollars).
Since 1980, U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has increased 67%, while median household income has only increased by 15%. Median household income is a politically sensitive indicator. Voters can be critical of their government if they perceive that their cost of living is rising faster than their income.
The late-2000s recession began with the bursting of the U.S. housing bubble, which caused a problem in the dangerously exposed sub prime-mortgage market. This in turn triggered a global financial crisis. In constant price, 2011 American median household income was 1.13% lower than what it was in 1989. This corresponds to a 0.05% annual decrease over a 22-year period. In the mean time, GDP per capita has increased by 33.8% or 1.33% annually.
A study on US Census income data claims that when using the national accounting methodology, U.S. gross median household income was $57,739 in 2010 (table 3).
In 2015, the US median household income spiked 5.2 per cent, reaching $56,000, making it the first annual hike in median household income since the start of the Great Recession.