Mirror, mirror on the wall, what's the richest country of them all?
The United States by far, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 25 industrialized countries.In recently released statistics, the Paris-based OECD figured standards of living - or real consumption - for each member country by comparing incomes, prices and spending characteristics in 1987.
On the face, the numbers can be misleading.
Consider that the Japanese have a higher per capita income than Americans, yet an apple costs 10 cents in the United States and $1 in Japan.
Similar price contrasts between the two countries exist for housing and consumer products, making national incomes alone meaningless as a measure of standards of living.
Using a complicated formula, the OECD considered differences in income and prices when compiling the data.
After adjusting for real purchasing power, the United States had the highest gross domestic product - or real production - per capita, and thereby was given an index of 100.
Canada came second with an index of 93, which means its per capita domestic product is 7 percent lower, followed by Norway at 84, Luxembourg at 81 and Sweden at 77.
West Germany tied for sixth place with Denmark at 74 percent of the U.S. GDP per capita. Japan placed eighth with an index of 72, 28 percent lower than real production in the United States.
OECD statistics showed when it comes to consuming, the United States is king.
For every $100 worth of goods Americans bought in 1987, Canadians purchased $80, West Germans $69, the French $66, and the Japanese $65.
Australians consumed $116 in food, beverage and tobacco for each $100 bought by Americans. The Italians purchased $107 and the French $106.
In spite of their trendiness, Europeans were outbought on clothing and footwear by Americans, who love European and Asian imports.
For each $100 in U.S. clothing and shoe purchases, Germans and Austrians purchased $82, followed by the Italians at $76 and the British with $70.
The French, fashionable but less affluent, bought just $60 worth of clothing and footwear. The Japanese, with a new fangled appetite for imported shoes and clothes, made purchases of $59.
When it comes to recreation, education and culture, the distance between the United States and the other industrialized countries is pronounced.
For every $100 Americans consumed in recreation, education and cultural enrichment, Canadians bought $91 worth, New Zealanders $77, Australians $70, Germans, $59 and Swedes $55. Japanese, Dutch and Britons tied at a comparatively measly $52.