The World Could Soon Be a “High-Income” Country

The World
How It Works
Sept. 4 2013 1:58 PM

The World Could Soon Be a “High-Income” Country

179459455
Indonesian customers enter a money changer office in Jakarta on September 4, 2013.

Photo by ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images

If the world were one country, how rich would it be? According to one measure, it’s approaching the top bracket.

The World Bank breaks countries down into four categories by gross national income: low, lower-middle, upper-middle, and high. The cutoffs for these categories are regularly revised but as of 2012, with a GNI of $10,015.32, the world would be in the upper-middle income bracket:” $4,086-$12,615.

Advertisement

But as economist David Lizoain points out in a blog post for Social Europe (via Branko Milanovic), “Over the past decade, world GNI per capita has gone from about 60% of the high income threshold to just under 80% of the threshold. The absolute difference has also been shrinking. If the world were a country, in the next few decades it should reach a point where it could be categorized as high income.” He charted the trend in the graph below:

1.-GNI-and-cutoff (1)

This is partly a story of overall incomes increasing, but also a good demonstration of why national income isn’t a very good way to measure a country’s overall well-being. This increase in global income has happened at the same time that global inequality has been rapidly increasing. The fact that you live in a high-income world isn’t that much of a comfort if you still live in a low-income country. 

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

The Congressional Republican Digging Through Scientists’ Grant Proposals

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Whole Foods Is Desperate for Customers to Feel Warm and Fuzzy Again

The XX Factor

I’m 25. I Have $250.03.

My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.

The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I’m 25. I Have $250.03. My doctors want me to freeze my eggs.
Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

George Tiller’s Murderer Threatens Another Abortion Provider, Claims Free Speech

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 21 2014 3:13 PM Why Countries Make Human Rights Pledges They Have No Intention of Honoring
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 1:12 PM The Global Millionaires Club Is Booming and Losing Its Exclusivity
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger's New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 1:47 PM The Best Way to Fry an Egg
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 10:43 AM Social Networking Didn’t Start at Harvard It really began at a girls’ reform school.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.