No One Has to Work as Little as an American to Afford Beer

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After a mere five minutes on the job, an American worker has earned enough money to be able to buy a beer. We’re #1!

The fabled American Dream has had a rough run in recent years: It’s been downgraded, deferred because it’s out of reach, and required facelifts, and the vast majority of Americans feel that it’s much harder to achieve than it was in the past.

Perhaps most depressing of all, the American Dream has been chosen as the name of a megamall in New Jersey—a bizarre, messy, much-criticized boondoggle of a mall at that.

(MORE: 10 Things That Cost Way More Outside the U.S.)

Nonetheless, Americans can take pride in the results of a new study conducted by UBS analysts, displayed conveniently in an Economist infographic. The chart reveals that, based on median hourly wages and average beer prices in a spectrum of 150 countries, it takes the typical employee on earth 20 minutes of work to pay for a beer. In the U.S., however, it takes the least amount of time of any nation—just five minutes of work—to be able to afford a refreshing, frosty beverage.

Everybody, join together: USA! USA! USA!

There are countries with far cheaper beer. China, Romania, Nigeria, and Vietnam are among the countries where the average beer is under $1, compared to $1.80 for the U.S. (All prices are at retail outlets, i.e., grocery store or liquor store, not at a bar or restaurant.) But because median hourly wages are much higher in the U.S., American workers reach the beer payoff point sooner—more than five times faster than in India, where the media worker must put in nearly an hour on the job to buy a beer costing an average of $1.40.

(MORE: Top 10 Conspicuously Expensive Purchases)

Because the U.S. is tops in what might be called a Beer Affordability Index, an American worker earns the equivalent of a world-leading 96 beers in the course of eight hours of daily labor, and 480 beers during a 40-hour work week. Let’s hope American workers are thirsty.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

4 comments
DominicBlais
DominicBlais

if you like frozen corporate goat piss. real beer is expensive costing more than wine

NojuanEspecial
NojuanEspecial

@DominicBlais So you know what goat piss tastes like?  

If you're dumb enough to pay wine prices (which, by the way can be as cheap as and sometimes cheaper than beer) for beer then you probably aren't smart enough to be able to distinguish a good one from a bad one anyway. 

Quit wasting your time and money on a crappy drink like beer and get liquor.

matth0dge
matth0dge

Try homebrewing it - 5 gallons for $20.