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Power and money

Numerical data about the countries

We are studying six countries. Three of them, U.S., Australia, and the Netherlands, are what some sociologists call countries that are WEIRD: Westernized, Educated, Industrial, Rich, and Democratic.

The WEIRD countries in the U.N.'s report

The WEIRD countries in the U.N.’s report

The map left shows the countries in a U.N. report on WEIRD countries, those shaded in blue. Compare that to the photo of the earth at night, on the right. Notice the similarity between the two maps? Those shaded blue in the left map are all well-lit in the lower map. That’s the I and R, industrial and rich. They can afford electricity at night.

The three other countries that we are studying, Brazil, China, and Thailand, are on their way to being WEIRD, though the W won’t apply to China and Thailand, so perhaps we’ll need a new acronym.


The Lights on Earth

The pages in this section have numerical data comparing the countries that we’re studying.

Some of the data sources on those pages are more neutral than others. Some are sponsored by an organization with a well-defined purpose that takes the side of an issue. Many of the sources have insufficient and perhaps unreliable data. I have tried to provide sources that are diverse geographically and politically.

From those comparisons, you will come to see the special combination of characteristics that make each of these countries unique. You will also come to see that in many ways, most ways, the people in these countries are very similar.

Every number on this page is publicly available, usually from multiple sources. Links go to the original data source, where I could find it.

Many go to a Wikipedia page with the information. Wikipedia is often the only place to find lists of countries ordered according to data from original data sources. Those Wikipedia pages always link to the original data sources — and to much more.

The Wikipedia is also a reliable source for basic data about a country, such as population and land area, for example.

As few of the links below as possible go to secondary sources like newspaper articles about the original data.

Please let me know if I have made any errors in transferring numbers from the sources to the table above. Also, I am very interested in data that differs from what is above.

population, millions (rank)324 (3)68 (20)17 (66)1,376 (1)206 (5)24 (53)
land area, sq. mi. in thousands (rank, % water)3,677 (4; 2)198 (51; 0.4)41 (131; 18)3,700 (3rd)3,300 (5; 0.6)2,969 (6; < 1)
ethnic makeupCaucasian 63%, other 37%34% Central Thai, 25% Thai Lao, 14% Thai Chinese, 10% Northern Thai, 20% OthersCaucasian 83%, other 17%Han 92%, other 8%Caucasian 48%, Pardo 43%, 9% otherCaucasian 92%, other 8%
GDP in billions of $ (rank)18,600 (2)1,100 (20)860 (28)21,300 (1)3,100 (7)1,200 (19)
GDP per capita in thousands of $ (rank)57 (13)17 (77)51 (15)15 (81)15 (84)48 (18)
taxes - as a % of GDP271739223426
billionaires536 (1 per 615,000)179 (1 per 1,800,000)2513127 (1 per 421,000)
income equality, rank67601216111100
total expenditure on health as a % of GDP (% gov't), % of total gov't expenditure17 (48), 217 (86), 2310 (87), 216 (56), 108 (46), 79 (67), 17
development aid, $ ($/capita, % of GNI) (rank)31.08 billion ($96; 0.19%) (21)--5.81 billion ($341; 0.80%) (4)----3.22 billion ($134; 0.29%) (15)
military expenditure per capita, US$1,900--750----900
military and paramilitary personnel (number per 1,000)2,300,000 (7.3)700,000 (10)46,000 (2.7)3,500,000 (2.6)2,000,000 (10)85,000 (3.6)
% believers, % not religious65, 3997, 232, 66--, 9087, 1833, 58
prisoners, per 100,00069345069--307162
capital punishment, number executions420047000
guns, per 100 residents1121535822
intentional homicide, per 100,000 residents (number of homicides)42 (12,200)5011 (125)1021010 (238)
voter turnout %526770--8094

General information

population – Wikipedia’s List of countries by population

land area (sq mi) – Wikipedia’s List of countries by area

ethnic makeup – each country’s Wikipedia page: U.S., Australia, Netherlands, Thailand, China, Brazil

How rich are these countries?

GDP – Wikipedia’s Lists of countries by GDP and GDP per capita

taxestax revenue as a percentage of GDP

What do they spend this wealth on? (as a % of GDP)

How healthy are these countries?

health as a % of GDP (% gov’t, % private) – WHO’s Global Health Observatory’s Health expenditure ratios, by country

How generous are these countries?

development aid to other countries, $ ($/capita, % of GNI gross national income) – Wikipedia’s List of development aid country donors

% of GDP for development aid (rank) – Statistic Brain, which compiled it from the OECD, The World Bank, and OECD’s Development Assistance Committee

Top five countries by military expenditure in 2015. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

Top five countries by military expenditure in 2015. (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute)

military expenditures – see bar chart above

military expenditures as a % of GDP – Wikipedia’s List of countries by military expenditures

military expenditure per capita, US$ – Wikipedia’s List of countries by military expenditure per capita

military and paramilitary personnel, number per 1,000 – Wikipedia’s List of countries by military and paramilitary personnel

Where are they? CNN’s U.S. military personnel by country: Not counting those at sea, the United States has active duty military troops stationed in about 150 countries, that is, 3/4 of all the countries on Earth. Australia has troops in six other countries: Afghanistan, East Timor, Egypt, Iraq, the Solomon Islands, and Sudan. The Netherlands has troops in four other countries: Mali, Afghanistan, Somalia, and South Sudan.

billionaires – Wikipedia’s List of countries by the number of US dollar billionaires

income equality – How equally is income distributed in a country? How great is the divide between rich and poor? The U.N.’s GINI index measures that divide. A Gini index of 0 represents perfect equality, while an index of 100 implies perfect inequality. The table shows the rank order for each country out of the 141 countries. The lower the rank number, the greater the gap between rich and poor.

Adjusting for the size of the country, countries on the high-inequality end have a lot of rich people and a lot of poor people. The low-inequality countries with ranks closer to the highest, Denmark’s Gini of 40 and rank of #139, don’t have as many rich people, but they have hardly any poor people.

income equality, rank – Wikipedia’s

believers – The Gallup poll asked: “Is religion important in your daily life?” The table shows the percentage of people in that country responding “yes”. Wikipedia’s List of countries by irreligion based on WIN-Gallup International Association data.

prisoners – How many people are in prison?  World Prison Brief gives the number per 100,000. See also the NY Times interactive graphic.

capital punishment – The number of “verifiable judicial executions” in the last year: worldwide total: 1,514. Source: NationMaster’s Executions, data from 2007.

guns, per 100 residents – Wikipedia’s Estimated number of guns per capita by country

intentional homicide, rate per 100,000 population. Nationmaster

voter turnout, percentage of eligible voters – IFES Election Guide


The pie charts below show how the governments use each country’s resources. The categories are not directly comparable, but they give a sense of each country’s values.

Australian 2011 federal budget

Australian 2011 federal budget


Netherlands 2012 budget


U.S. 2015 budget

Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions

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Geert Hofstede

Geert Hofstede

Geert Hofstede (right) is the world’s preeminent researcher in the field of cross-cultural characteristics. For several decades, he has measured and compared most of the world’s countries on seven dimensions of culture.

The table above shows each country’s score (always a number) for each of these dimensions, not its rank order. The text below was drawn from his web:

Power Distance Index (PDI) “The extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions (like the family) accept and expect that power is distributed unequally.” – A higher score (larger number) indicates more distance.
Individualism (IDV) “On the individualist side we find societies in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after him/herself and his/her immediate family. On the collectivist side, we find societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty.” A high score indicates a country that rewards individual behavior more than group behavior.
Masculinity (MAS) High scores indicate tough, competitive cultures; low scores indicate tender, nurturing, cooperative cultures.Note that the U.S. scores high on both individuality and masculinity — the cowboy. The Netherlands has the lowest masculinity score yet a score almost as high as the U.S. on individualism. Is it possible to separate the two? Apparently.Hofstede’s web explains. He is Dutch, so he’ll have some special insight here:

A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner/best in field – a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organisational behaviour.

A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine).

The Netherlands scores 14 on this dimension and is therefore a feminine society. In feminine countries it is important to keep the life/work balance and you make sure that all are included. An effective manager is supportive to his/her people, and decision making is achieved through involvement. Managers strive for consensus and people value equality, solidarity and quality in their working lives. Conflicts are resolved by compromise and negotiation and Dutch are known for their long discussions until consensus has been reached.

Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI) “Indicates to what extent a culture programs its members to feel either uncomfortable or comfortable in unstructured situations.” High scores indicate societies that go to greater lengths to reduce uncertainly in people’s lives. Low scores indicate a society that is more tolerant of uncertainty and ambiguity.
Indulgence versus Restraint (IND)

One challenge that confronts humanity, now and in the past, is the degree to which little children are socialized. Without socialization we do not become “human”. This dimension is defined as the extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised. Relatively weak control is called “indulgence”, a society that allows relatively free gratification of basic and natural human drives related to enjoying life and having fun.

Relatively strong control (lower scores) is called “restraint”, a society that suppresses gratification of needs and regulates it by means of strict social norms. Societies with a low score in this dimension have a tendency to cynicism and pessimism. Also, in contrast to indulgent societies, restrained societies do not put much emphasis on leisure time and control the gratification of their desires. People with this orientation have the perception that their actions are restrained by social norms and feel that indulging themselves is somewhat wrong.

Long-Term Orientation (LTO) Higher scores indicate more long-term orientation.