As it turns out, the bottom 99 percent of the United States doesn’t make the top 1 percent of household incomes worldwide — but it comes surprisingly close. Branko Milanovic, lead economist for the World Bank research group, sent me this comparative analysis based on household income or consumption surveys worldwide, adjusted for purchasing power differences. Those at the 34th percentile of income in the United States are at the 90th percentile globally, and those at the 50th percentile in the United States are at the 93rd percentile globally. Even the very poorest Americans — those at the 2nd percentile of income in the United States — are at the 62nd percentile globally.
Milanovic points out that the data are adjusted based on relative price levels in different countries — what’s known as purchasing power parity — to adjust for cost of living and currency values in different countries. “Without that adjustment, Americans would be even more highly placed,” he says. For more of Milanovic’s findings, detailed in his latest book, “The Haves and the Have-Nots,” look here.