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NOT MUCH PARITY

Which is the most expensive country in the world?

A person drinking champagne
AP/Luca Bruno
The expensive life.
  • Dan Kopf
By Dan Kopf

Data editor

In 2017, Egypt’s average income per person was about $2,200. In Japan, it was about $31,200, almost 14 times more. So can the average Japanese person actually buy 14 times more stuff than the average Egyptian? Not even close, according to the World Bank’s recently released cost of goods and services statistics.

Every six years, the International Comparison Program, a project led by the World Bank, collects data on prices across the globe. It is the biggest statistical program in the world, including about 200 countries, according to the economist Nada Hamadeh, who manages it. Without this data, it would be nearly impossible to compare the levels of poverty and well-being of people across the world.

The latest data, for 2017, demonstrate the huge disparities in the cost of living between countries. Japan was five times more expensive than Egypt. This means that the amount the average Japanese person could buy was about three times more than the average Egyptian. It’s still a big difference, but not as massive as it might appear at first glance.

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