American Europhiles love to make comparisons between the entire United States and the rich Nordic countries in order to advocate America's "Europeanization." But comparing these two is deceiving. I explain why below in a letter I wrote to The New York Times.
To the Editor: In “Why is Europe a Dirty Word?” (Jan. 14), Mr. Kristof claims that US emulation of Europe is not such a bad idea, holding up Norway’s higher GDP per capita as an example why. But Norway’s wealth stems from its enormous natural resources in the North Sea—not its “superior” economic system. I suppose Mr. Kristof would also idolize Qatar—the richest country in the world per capita. Never mind its complete dependence on oil and gas reserves. It is also not fair to compare a small homogenous country like Norway—a pocket of wealth in Europe—to the entire economically and demographically diverse United States. When compared to similar areas in America, like Connecticut, Norway’s GDP per capita pales in comparison. The US and Norway are not like-for-like comparisons. MATTHEW MELCHIORRE Washington, Jan. 17, 2011 The writer is an Adjunct Analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.Mr. Kristof and his Europhile cohorts ought to realize the reasons -- unrelated to economic structure -- why certain economies are statistically wealthier than others before making broad generalizations. They must also make fair comparisons. The United States is a conglomeration of many diverse economies represented in the 50 states, much like Europe is a conglomeration of many diverse economies represented in its different countries. It makes much more sense to compare the countries of Europe with the states of the U.S., in which case Norway -- Europe's most affluent country aside from Luxembourg (which is almost three times less wealthy than similarly-sized Washington, D.C.) -- is still less wealthy than Connecticut -- America's wealthiest state of similar population.