Friday, February 24, 2012

BBC mistaken on Japan as third richest country

From the BBC:
The discovery of three bodies that lay unnoticed for up to two months in an apartment in Japan has raised concern over so-called "lonely deaths".... Despite being the world's third richest country, Japan has seen a number of similar cases in recent years.
Japan is a large country, with around 127 million people, and is usually estimated to have the third largest economy in the world. Here World Bank statistics put it just below China, which is below only the US.

But Japan is not the third richest country. Its huge population is a big reason for its huge GDP, which is obviously true for China too, a middle-low income country with a gigantic population. Looking only at GDP is meaningless, since it would suggest that India ($1,727,111,096,363) is many times richer than Singapore ($208,765,019,308).

Instead we need some measure of wealth per capita. This one, simple GDP per person in US dollars, puts Japan 14th. This one, using Gross National Income per person (based on purchasing power parity), puts Japan 16th.

So the BBC writer makes a simple mistake in saying that Japan is the third richest country, by using the wrong measurement.

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