How Rich the U.S. Is Compared to the Rest of the World, Visualized

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iStock

The U.S. is often called the richest country in the world. But how rich is it, really? A new infographic from How Much, spotted by Digg, explores the average household income across the 36 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). As you can see in the graphic below, the U.S. is, on average, quite rich compared to most other countries.

The infographic explores finances on two different levels. The size of each bubble corresponds to household wealth: in other words, assets minus debts. That means it takes into account savings, stocks, and other financial assets as well as loans. (It doesn't include property holdings due to a lack of data, so it doesn't encompass the big boost of wealth that comes from say, owning a penthouse overlooking Central Park in New York City.) As you can see, the U.S.'s bubble is a pretty big outlier. On average, U.S. families have a net worth of $176,100, compared to just $128,400 in the second-wealthiest country on the map, Switzerland.

Colored bubbles represent household income and wealth across the OCED
How Much

The colors of the bubbles correspond to "household net adjusted disposable income," as the OECD refers to it, which has to do with the money you bring in each year rather than what you own. That takes into account salary, income from things like stock dividends and rental properties, and government benefits (like Social Security, unemployment, food stamps, or housing subsidies). It also takes into account what each household pays in taxes, providing a snapshot of the take-home pay people actually have available to spend, rather than their pre-tax salary.

The U.S. has relatively high salaries, at $44,000 a year (the top of the scale) in disposable income. Only Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Norway have disposable income levels greater than $35,000. Mexico falls at the bottom of the scale, with average adjusted disposable incomes of less than $15,000. Most of Western Europe falls within the $25,100 to $30,000 range, while income in Eastern Europe, Israel, South Korea, and New Zealand is a little lower.

There could be a lot going on behind this data, though. The U.S. has an increasingly stratified economic system, so while the averages seem fairly high, that's probably because the few billionaires among us are skewing the numbers. The U.S. also doesn't have the social safety net offered by governments in much of the rest of the world, meaning that while we have relatively high salaries and pay lower taxes in some cases, we have to pay for things like healthcare and retirement on our own.

Read more about the OECD numbers here.

[h/t Digg]

America's Best and Worst Cities for Public Transit

Washington D.C.'s Metro
Washington D.C.'s Metro
iStock.com/kickstand

Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, a new release from Island Press, is undoubtedly a book for transit nerds. But everyone else could learn a little something from it, too. In just a few quick visuals, it's able to distill why transit use is common in some big cities in the U.S., while in others, people are chained to their cars.

The density maps, which we first spotted over on CityLab, highlight where the most people live and are employed in major U.S. cities, overlaying information about how accessible frequent rail and/or bus service is in that area. The combined data show a realistic picture of how accessible certain parts of a city are, illuminating which U.S. cities, and which of their neighborhoods, are easiest to get around without a car.

A density map of D.C. showing where transit is within 0.5 miles
Washington D.C.
Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, Island Press

Sure, there are likely bus lines that run farther out beyond the bounds of downtown, but frequency is one of the most important predictors of whether people actually use transit or not. So is distance—you're not going to get many riders if people have to drive to your bus stop—and while some planners consider a quarter-mile to be the ideal maximum distance to be considered "walkable" distance to transit, others, including those running major transit agencies like the Washington D.C. Metro, use a half-mile as the standard. (The book's author, Rice University urban planner Christof Spieler, served on the board of directors for the Houston METRO from 2010 to 2018.)

A density map of New York City showing where transit is within 0.5 miles
New York City
Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, Island Press

The resulting infographics portray the reality of American transit options. Even in cities we imagine are great for public transportation (New York) there are wide swaths of densely populated geography that are virtually inaccessible. Other cities known for their over-dependency on the car (Los Angeles) actually might have far more transit options than you imagine.

A density map of Los Angeles showing where transit is within 0.5 miles
Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of U.S. Transit, Island Press

So what U.S. cities have the overall best transit coverage, according to Spieler? He names these cities as the five best: New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

And the most useless? As far as individual rail lines go, Nashville's $41 million Music City Star line carries fewer people than most bus routes. St. Clair County, Illinois, has a MetroLink line running from St. Louis eastward to serve "literal corn fields," Spieler writes. A Cleveland light-rail extension built in the 1990s serves a pathetic 400 people a day. Dallas's system, DART, is the biggest light-rail line in the country, but it "reaches remarkably few places," carrying half as many people per mile as transit in San Diego, Phoenix, or Houston.

In general, recent American transit projects cost taxpayers a ton of money and serve relatively few people—New York, despite having one of the best transit systems in the U.S., has paid $18.9 billion over the last 10 years on a mere three subway stations and one commuter-rail station.

Curious as to how your city measures up? Get the book on Amazon for $36.

[h/t CityLab]

The 20 Safest Cities in America, Mapped

iStock.com/finwal
iStock.com/finwal

If safety is a top concern for you when choosing where to live, there are several factors you need to take into account. Personal safety may come to mind immediately, but financial risks and natural disasters are also worth considering, too. Fortunately, as Thrillist reports, WalletHub has weighed all of these factors in its latest analysis of the safest cities in America, which you can explore in the map below.

To crown the country's safest city, WalletHub considered 39 different factors in three different categories. In the home and community safety category, the number of mass shootings, sex offenders, law-enforcement employees, and traffic fatalities per capita were factored into the score, among other information. The financial safety score, on the other hand, accounted for the unemployment rate, number of identity theft complaints, job security, and retirement plan access and participation rates. The natural-disaster risk score was based on the likelihood of earthquakes, floods, hurricane storm surges, hail, tornados, and wildfires.

Source: WalletHub

Out of the 182 U.S. cities included in WalletHub’s analysis, Columbia, Maryland ranked the highest for overall safety, earning 86 points out of 100 overall. The city appeared fourth in the home and community safety category, 34th in the financial safety category, and 63rd in the natural-disaster safety category.

Below are the 20 safest cities in the country, according to WalletHub.

The 20 Safest Cities

1. Columbia, Maryland
2. South Burlington, Vermont
3. Plano, Texas
4. Virginia Beach, Virginia
5. Warwick, Rhode Island
6. Gilbert, Arizona
7. Yonkers, New York
8. Bismarck, North Dakota
9. Nashua, New Hampshire
10. Boise, Idaho
11. Brownsville, Texas
12. Chandler, Arizona
13. Aurora, Illinois
14. Chesapeake, Virginia
15. Scottsdale, Arizona
16. Burlington, Vermont
17. Lewiston, Maine
18. Fargo, North Dakota
19. Salem, Oregon
20. Worcester, Massachusetts

The round-up also gives you an idea of the least safe cities in America, if you’re hoping to avoid locales with a less-than-stellar track record. This analysis identifies St. Louis, Missouri as the least safe city in the country. Baton Rouge, Louisiana, ranks lowest in home and community safety. Here are some of the others that made the least-safe list:

The 20 Least-Safe cities

1. St. Louis, Missouri
2. Fort Lauderdale, Florida
3. San Bernardino, California
4. Baton Rouge, Louisiana
5. Little Rock, Arkansas
6. Detroit, Michigan
7. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
8. Wichita, Kansas
9. Los Angeles, California
10. Jackson, Mississippi
11. Memphis, Tennessee
12. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
13. New Orleans, Louisiana
14. Cleveland, Ohio
15. Las Vegas, Nevada
16. St. Petersburg, Florida
17. Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky
18. Kansas City, Missouri
19. Orlando, Florida
20. Knoxville, Tennessee

Want to know more? Head to WalletHub to read more about the data and methodology involved.

[h/t Thrillist]

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