Unexpectedly Intriguing!
December 9, 2005

Earlier this year, Political Calculations noted a study by the Sweden-based free-market advocacy group Timbro, which compared the relative wealth of the nations of Western Europe (the 15 members of the European Union prior to the EU being expanded in May 2004) against individual U.S. states. The key finding in Timbro's report (available as a 958KB PDF document) was that:

If the European Union were a state in the USA it would belong to the poorest group of states. France, Italy, Great Britain and Germany have lower GDP per capita than all but four of the states in the United States. In fact, GDP per capita is lower in the vast majority of the EU-countries (EU 15) than in most of the individual American states. This puts Europeans at a level of prosperity on par with states such as Arkansas, Mississippi and West Virginia.

Timbro's study was based on 2002 economic data, but since it was published, economic data for both 2003 and 2004 has been published. So, the question is now: what's changed in those two years? To find out, Political Calculations has created the following dynamic table comparing each U.S. state's Gross State Product (GSP) or each E.U. nation's Gross Domestic Product adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity (GDP-PPP) data for 2004, their respective populations and their corresponding per Capita economic data, which you may sort according to the column headings, either from highest to lowest value or vice-versa.

US vs EU: 2004 Edition
U.S. State or E.U. Nation GSP or GDP-PPP
(billions 2004 USD)
Population
(July 2004 est.)
GSP or GDP-PPP
per Capita
US - Alabama 139.8 4530182 30869
US - Alaska 34.0 655435 51909
US - Arizona 200.0 5743834 34812
US - Arkansas 80.9 2752629 29391
US - California 1550.8 35893799 43204
US - Colorado 200.0 4601403 43458
US - Connecticut 185.8 3503604 53032
US - Delaware 54.3 830364 65362
US - District of Columbia 76.7 553523 138540
US - Florida 599.1 17397161 34435
US - Georgia 343.1 8829383 38862
US - Hawaii 50.3 1262840 39848
US - Idaho 43.6 1393262 31273
US - Illinois 521.9 12713634 41050
US - Indiana 227.6 6237569 36484
US - Iowa 111.1 2954451 37609
US - Kansas 98.9 2735502 36171
US - Kentucky 136.4 4145922 32911
US - Louisiana 152.9 4515770 33869
US - Maine 43.3 1317253 32899
US - Maryland 228.0 5558058 41020
US - Massachusetts 317.8 6416505 49528
US - Michigan 372.2 10112620 36802
US - Minnesota 223.8 5100958 43878
US - Mississippi 76.2 2902966 26237
US - Missouri 203.3 5754618 35327
US - Montana 27.5 926865 29650
US - Nebraska 68.2 1747214 39024
US - Nevada 100.3 2334771 42967
US - New Hampshire 51.9 1299500 39916
US - New Jersey 416.1 8698879 47828
US - New Mexico 61.0 1903289 32056
US - New York 896.7 19227088 46639
US - North Carolina 336.4 8541221 39385
US - North Dakota 22.7 634366 35763
US - Ohio 419.9 11459011 36641
US - Oklahoma 107.6 3523553 30537
US - Oregon 128.1 3594586 35638
US - Pennsylvania 468.1 12406292 37730
US - Rhode Island 41.7 1080632 38569
US - South Carolina 136.1 4198068 32426
US - South Dakota 29.4 770883 38120
US - Tennessee 217.6 5900962 36880
US - Texas 884.1 22490022 39312
US - Utah 82.6 2389039 34579
US - Vermont 21.9 621394 35277
US - Virginia 329.3 7459827 44147
US - Washington 261.5 6203788 42160
US - West Virginia 49.5 1815354 27242
US - Wisconsin 211.6 5509026 38413
US - Wyoming 24.0 506529 47340
US - All States 11665.6 293655404 39959
EU - Austria 255.9 8174762 31304
EU - Belgium 316.2 10348276 30556
EU - Denmark 174.4 5413392 32216
EU - Finland 151.2 5214512 28996
EU - France 1737.0 60424213 28747
EU - Germany 2362.0 82424609 28656
EU - Greece 226.4 10647529 21263
EU - Ireland 126.4 3969558 31842
EU - Italy 1609.0 58057477 27714
EU - Luxembourg 27.3 462690 59003
EU - Netherlands 481.1 16318199 29482
EU - Portugal 188.7 10524145 17930
EU - Spain 937.6 40280780 23277
EU - Sweden 255.4 8986400 28420
EU - United Kingdom 1782.0 60270708 29567
EU - 15 (Members pre-2004) 10630.6 381517250 27864

Analyzing the Data

The Poorest US State and the Poorest EU-15 Nation in 2004

In ranking the data according to GSP or GDP per Capita, the poorest U.S. state is Mississippi, with a GSP per Capita of $26,237 USD (2004). For the EU-15, the poorest nation is Portugal, whose GDP-PPP per Capita (GDP per Capita adjusted for Purchasing Power Parity in equivalent U.S. dollars) is $17,930 USD.

The Richest US State and the Richest EU-15 Nation in 2004

Discarding the statistical outliers (see below), the richest U.S. state, as measured on a GSP per Capita basis is Delaware, with a GSP per Capita of $65,632 USD. Meanwhile, the richest EU-15 nation is Denmark with $32,216 USD GDP-PPP per Capita figure.

The "Rich" Statistical Outliers

According to the calculated GSP per Capita and the GDP-PPP per Capita data, the richest part of the United States is the District of Columbia (at $138,540 USD) and the richest part of Europe is Luxembourg (at $59,003 USD). Both figures are inflated well beyond the national average (more than double) due to each region's unique situation. The District of Columbia occupies some 61 square miles (158 square kilometers) and is the seat of the U.S. federal government, whose spending makes up the vast bulk of its GSP figure. Luxembourg is the smallest member of the EU, occupying some 998 square miles (2,586 square kilometers - slightly smaller than the U.S.' Rhode Island) and draws considerable capital flight from other countries to its banking institutions given the country's status as a tax haven.

Relative Comparison

In sorting the table from poorest to richest GSP or GDP-PPP per Capita, we see that the three EU-15 nations of Portugal, Greece and Spain are ranked lower than the two poorest U.S. states of Mississippi and West Virginia. Working our way up the GSP and GDP-PPP per Capita chain, we see that the EU-15 nations of Italy, the EU-15 as a whole, Sweden, Germany, France and Finland all rank below the next lowest U.S. state of Arkansas.

Continuing up the chain, we see that the Netherlands and the United Kingdom fall behind Montana and Oklahoma, while Belgium ranks behind Alabama and Idaho. Next, we see Austria and Ireland coming in behind New Mexico, while Denmark - the richest EU-15 nation behind statistical outlier Luxembourg, falls in behind South Carolina and the other 41 U.S. states.

If statistical outlier Luxembourg were a U.S. state, it would rank second behind top U.S. state Delaware.

As far as what has changed in two years time, the answer is "not much."

Data, Data and More Data

GSP and GDP-PPP Data

Population Data

GSP and GDP per Capita

This data was calculated by simply dividing the published GSP or GDP data by the US state or EU nation's population estimate for July 2004.

Previously on Political Calculations

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