Income (US vs Europe)

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s8r
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Income (US vs Europe)

Post by s8r » Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:55 pm

I am about 30 years old. I make roughly 50k a year, from which the yearly take-home salary is in the low 30k region. In my country (Finland) this is considered a mid-level salary for a white-collar employee. I save about 15k a year, so my savings rate is roughly 50% of take-home salary (I consider myself frugal).

Reading here about the financial status of Bogleheads in the US, it seems that the salaries over the pond are overwhelmingly greater. Earning six-figure salaries in the US does not seem to be that uncommon. Over here, you would have to be a doctor, top-level manager or a successful entrepreneur to make such money. For a regular white-collar employee such as a programmer or an engineer, hitting six figures seems extremely rare here. Of course, in Europe you usually get many things provided by the government that you have to finance yourself in the US, but I doubt this mitigates the pay gap.

Are white-collar employees significantly better off in the US than in Europe, or are most of the US folks here at Bogleheads just representing an American minority who have had very successful careers?

Valuethinker
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:09 pm

s8r wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:55 pm
I am about 30 years old. I make roughly 50k a year, from which the yearly take-home salary is in the low 30k region. In my country (Finland) this is considered a mid-level salary for a white-collar employee. I save about 15k a year, so my savings rate is roughly 50% of take-home salary (I consider myself frugal).

Reading here about the financial status of Bogleheads in the US, it seems that the salaries over the pond are overwhelmingly greater. Earning six-figure salaries in the US does not seem to be that uncommon. Over here, you would have to be a doctor, top-level manager or a successful entrepreneur to make such money. For a regular white-collar employee such as a programmer or an engineer, hitting six figures seems extremely rare here. Of course, in Europe you usually get many things provided by the government that you have to finance yourself in the US, but I doubt this mitigates the pay gap.

Are white-collar employees significantly better off in the US than in Europe, or are most of the US folks here at Bogleheads just representing an American minority who have had very successful careers?
Remember the US is far and away the HQ of the world's internet and technology industry. Salaries are going to be a lot higher for programmers. Similarly the US has the world's largest healthcare industry and doctors and administrators in that industry are extremely well paid compared to other countries.

It is like for like. Compared to a salary of a mid level programmer working for some company in the Midwest, your salary might not appear to be so much smaller.

Median income *is* higher in the USA. And mean (arithmetic average) income is a lot higher - but that's because the top 10% (really the top 1%) of Americans do so well.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Median_in ... by_country

says $43k vs. $36k in Finland for median salary

You also have to remember that:

- Americans pay high university fees. These days, even public universities charge high fees at least in some states. It's normal to graduate with quite large student loans (fees have been rising much faster than inflation, so a group which graduated say 30 years ago won't have this characteristic)

- private schools are probably more common than in Finland

- you have to own a car - most families seem to have 2-3 cars. That would not be true everywhere in Finland?

- Americans pay for their own medical insurance (to be precise, many Americans have employer provided care, but pay "copays" on top of that for medical bills). On hears numbers like $20k+ a year for a family of 4 if you are self employed or otherwise not insured

warner25
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by warner25 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:17 pm

I think the answer is "both" to some degree. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the median income for a software developer is $100k, which seems to be much higher than in Europe. I've read various explanations for that and don't know what to believe. Still, some 2006 data cited on Wikipedia shows that $100k puts a US worker in the top 5% overall, and many threads on this forum have explained the selection bias towards people with extraordinarily high incomes.

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-in ... lopers.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluence ... ted_States

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BolderBoy
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by BolderBoy » Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:57 pm

s8r wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:55 pm
or are most of the US folks here at Bogleheads just representing an American minority who have had very successful careers?
There is probably some self-selecting BH bias here, but there is nothing wrong with rubbing elbows with rich folks :). But job-for-job it is safe to bet that USA workers are paid more than Finlandia workers for many of the reasons that others have cited.

In the programmer world (I'm only a programming hobbyist) I asked at one of my computer / programming Meetups what typical programmer salaries run and was told that after 10 years most USA-based programmers ought to be making 6 figure incomes.
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adamthesmythe
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by adamthesmythe » Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:50 pm

A few thoughts

Can you try it out for a year or two? Or does it mean abandoning a solid job forever?

Job stability in the US is usually not good for all but a very few. How do you feel about looking for a new job every several years?

The balance of power between employees and employer is very definitely biased toward the employer in the US. It is likely to become more so in the near future.

You do have the advantage of coming from a country that is not unwelcome. However I believe visas will still be difficult.

(I have actually worked in Finland for a short period). Life is very different in the US. Not as much as between the US and Asia but still...very different.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by goodenyou » Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:50 pm

In the United States, you are paid a higher salary for most jobs. Capital is also attracted to the US because of the reduced regulation and reduced welfare state that is more prevalent in Europe. For some, they prefer the opportunity for greater income, savings and financial independence that comes with it. Others prefer the government benefits afforded by high taxation as well as more vacation time that is available in Europe. The US has more universities and institutions of "higher learning" per capita than any other place on earth. Formal university education is not (solely) a meritocracy in the USA as it is in many other countries. It is big and expensive business. It is interesting to talk to people who immigrate to the US. Many of them are attracted to the possibility of financial freedom and choices that come from larger savings from higher salaries. For now, at least, that is available in the USA in some careers and income levels.
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s8r
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by s8r » Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:54 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:09 pm
- you have to own a car - most families seem to have 2-3 cars. That would not be true everywhere in Finland?
Actually, Finland has the most vehicles per person of all countries. Almost 30% more than in USA. And up here cars are significantly more expensive to buy and own.

But yes, USA beats nearly all of Europe in vehicles per person, so overall your point is valid.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/10/ ... er-person/
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adamthesmythe
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by adamthesmythe » Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:32 pm

s8r wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:54 pm
Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:09 pm
- you have to own a car - most families seem to have 2-3 cars. That would not be true everywhere in Finland?
Actually, Finland has the most vehicles per person of all countries. Almost 30% more than in USA. And up here cars are significantly more expensive to buy and own.

But yes, USA beats nearly all of Europe in vehicles per person, so overall your point is valid.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/10/ ... er-person/
Image
Finns also drink more coffee than any other country, so presumably they do not fall asleep while driving all these cars.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Jags4186 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:02 pm

s8r wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:55 pm
I am about 30 years old. I make roughly 50k a year, from which the yearly take-home salary is in the low 30k region. In my country (Finland) this is considered a mid-level salary for a white-collar employee. I save about 15k a year, so my savings rate is roughly 50% of take-home salary (I consider myself frugal).

Reading here about the financial status of Bogleheads in the US, it seems that the salaries over the pond are overwhelmingly greater. Earning six-figure salaries in the US does not seem to be that uncommon. Over here, you would have to be a doctor, top-level manager or a successful entrepreneur to make such money. For a regular white-collar employee such as a programmer or an engineer, hitting six figures seems extremely rare here. Of course, in Europe you usually get many things provided by the government that you have to finance yourself in the US, but I doubt this mitigates the pay gap.

Are white-collar employees significantly better off in the US than in Europe, or are most of the US folks here at Bogleheads just representing an American minority who have had very successful careers?
Not sure what social programs are available in Finland, but I’m pretty sure its quite extensive.

Consider these two expenses in relation to what you have.

Healthcare: for my wife and me we pay $3900 in premiums/yr through my employer. We also have $4000/deductible each, and a $12,000 Max OOP. That means that for the first $4000 each in medical expenses every year, we’re out of pocket. Unless we have a severe injury (think broken bone) or have a long hospitilization, we basically pay out of pocket for all of our medical expenses.

If we had children and both wanted to continue to work, we’d be out anywhere from $1500-$2000/mo for daycare expenses. This would be from age 0.25 - age 6. In addition, we’d likely have to pay several hundred dollars a month in aftercare until the child was able to get home and stay home alone—another 4 or 5 years minimum likely. Don’t forget the littany of expenses and fees for childrens activities. When that child goes to college unless they are extremely gifted and get a scholarship somewhere, you’re likely out at least $10,000/yr for instate tuition upwards of $65,000/yr for private school.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by jjface » Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:32 pm

Yes definitely higher salaries in the USA for middle class jobs. I think many Europeans get the impression that all Americans are rich and all of America is abundant but it really isn't the case. There is a lot more disparity between the rich, middle and poor. But yes BHs do tend to have higher salaries on average from what I can see.

There are benefits to Europe that go beyond wages though - diversity of culture, ease of travel to other countries, history, less reliance on cars, better work-life balance etc. And then benefits of living in the USA too. Healthcare is a big cost that Europeans don't have to worry about like people do in the USA. As well as things like astronomical university/college fees. Many things are also cheaper though like gas/petrol, iphones, food etc.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by 22twain » Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:44 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:09 pm
Similarly the US has the world's largest healthcare industry and doctors and administrators in that industry are extremely well paid compared to other countries.
Which is probably connected with the US having the highest per-capita expenditures for health care, in the world.
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by minimalistmarc » Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:48 pm

My impression is that work life balance is poor in America compared to Europe.

Long hours and very limited annual leave seems to be the norm.

In Europe 6 weeks paid annual leave and 10 public holidays a year is the norm.

I’m US 3 weeks is generous from people I’ve talked to.

The thing I like most about America is that people seem to be rewarded for improving their skills. For example you do a masters degree and get a good pay rise.

In the U.K. you don’t get this, and if anything society dislikes high earners, no matter how hard they work and massively high tax they pay

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by randomizer » Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:51 pm

Cost of living is much higher in (many parts of) the US. You generally won't get the higher salaries outside of those areas, unless you're lucky.
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Hockey10
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Hockey10 » Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:56 pm

Some of the frequent posters here are very well off in terms of assets. In many cases, this is from 30+ years of patient, disciplined investing, while earning an average salary.

Some of the newbies asking questions also are very well off in terms of income. I suspect quite a few of the questions are coming from either those in the Silicon Valley tech world or from the medical field. In both cases, the income can be significantly higher than what the typical American makes. I don't see many questions from those making minimum wage......

p.s. I know of several Finns who do quite well in America - Tuuka Rask, Pekka Rinne, Mikko Rantanen, etc....

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by simas » Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:38 am

US is very big (similar to Europe) and can wary as much as UK and say Greece - it is 50 different states with its own laws, taxes, different social contracts (higher taxes for higher services). Because it is so big , states compete, and you can select how you want your experience to be - very high cost of living places, medium, low cost of living ,etc.

generally, we (US) pay significantly lower taxes, there are no VAT, there is also no 'free' college level education and different approach to healthcare.
not better, not worse, just different.
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Valuethinker
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:25 am

minimalistmarc wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 4:48 pm
My impression is that work life balance is poor in America compared to Europe.

Long hours and very limited annual leave seems to be the norm.

In Europe 6 weeks paid annual leave and 10 public holidays a year is the norm.

I’m US 3 weeks is generous from people I’ve talked to.

The thing I like most about America is that people seem to be rewarded for improving their skills. For example you do a masters degree and get a good pay rise.

In the U.K. you don’t get this, and if anything society dislikes high earners, no matter how hard they work and massively high tax they pay
Direct taxation in the UK is actually relatively low.

I believe I pay about the same marginal tax rate as someone in New York City or California.

You can shelter a lot of your income in a personal pension and also ISAs for investment income.

Indirect taxation the 20 per cent vat and gasoline taxes are high compared to USA.

Property taxes are really low compared to what my friends pay in North America. In my case about 20 per cent. However there is SDRT (stamp duty).

Principal residence is CGT exempt which is nice.

I work in software for financial services companies. There's no dislike of the highly paid here.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by simas » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:44 am

Taxes - all depends on comparisons.
I.e. I was curious on UK rates and looked up this on google - https://www.gov.uk/income-tax-rates. WOW , for a person not living in NY or Cali, and coming from US , these tax brackets are shocking. 40% over USD60k (46k in pounds). In US, 60k would be 22% bracket for individual or 12% for married filling jointly and similarly we have tons of exemptions/allowances, zero cap gain tax for that tax bracket, and tons of deductions.

If curious check out gocurrycracker as example of tax returns of how it works between earned income and capital gains - https://www.gocurrycracker.com/go-curry ... 016-taxes/ and https://www.gocurrycracker.com/4-years- ... ee-living/

State taxes vary a lot - from nothing to double digit percentages. https://taxfoundation.org/state-individ ... kets-2018/ . NY and CA are on the high side.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by hmw » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:23 pm

I don't know about continental Europe, but I know MDs in UK are paid significantly less than their US counterparts. I knew some British trainees doing fellowships here and they told me that they would make about 100k pounds per year after they return home. That was about 10 years ago. Their US counterparts would easily make $300k at the time. Of course, the UK docs don't carry $300k student debts.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Valuethinker » Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:41 pm

simas wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:44 am
Taxes - all depends on comparisons.
I.e. I was curious on UK rates and looked up this on google - https://www.gov.uk/income-tax-rates. WOW , for a person not living in NY or Cali, and coming from US , these tax brackets are shocking. 40% over USD60k (46k in pounds). In US, 60k would be 22% bracket for individual or 12% for married filling jointly and similarly we have tons of exemptions/allowances, zero cap gain tax for that tax bracket, and tons of deductions.

If curious check out gocurrycracker as example of tax returns of how it works between earned income and capital gains - https://www.gocurrycracker.com/go-curry ... 016-taxes/ and https://www.gocurrycracker.com/4-years- ... ee-living/

State taxes vary a lot - from nothing to double digit percentages. https://taxfoundation.org/state-individ ... kets-2018/ . NY and CA are on the high side.
You cannot look at a US taxpayer just looking st federal tax. Just as the bulk of the really well paid live in London and adjacent counties so to do a disproportionate share live in California and greater NYC.

And not considering health insurance risks not measuring like for like. It's not possible to be without health insurance and be "middle class". In any country.

Remember too our median income is lower so fewer people pay the higher rate. We also have the first 11k tax free (say usd 15k).

By European standards our income taxation is low

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BeBH65
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by BeBH65 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 1:25 pm

Valuethinker wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:41 pm
By European standards our income taxation is low
For Comparison:

In Belgium the first 7,5K Euro are not taxed and the taxation of the remainder was recently lowered to the following:
25% for € 0 to €12 990
40% for € 12 990,01 to € 22 290
45% for € 22 290,01 to € 39 660
50% for More then 39 660,01 euro

We do get "more" in return to counterbalance this
BeBH65. (only an investment enthusiast, not a financial adviser, perform your due diligence).

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by KyleAAA » Sun Oct 07, 2018 1:36 pm

For software engineers yes, salaries are MUCH higher in the US other than European outposts of companies like Google or FB. In the US, you can easily make $200k without having to work for a few top companies whereas in Europe, you likely can't. I can't comment on other professions, but I would assume they are much closer to parity. Tech salaries have accelerated at an unsustainable pace the last 5 years and I'm assuming will have to flatten out soon, because they are starting to border on outrageous.

Median household income is around $59k in the US and median individual income is around $31k, so it's also the case that Bogleheads is not at all representative of the broader population.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Jags4186 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:02 pm

BeBH65 wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 1:25 pm
Valuethinker wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:41 pm
By European standards our income taxation is low
For Comparison:

In Belgium the first 7,5K Euro are not taxed and the taxation of the remainder was recently lowered to the following:
25% for € 0 to €12 990
40% for € 12 990,01 to € 22 290
45% for € 22 290,01 to € 39 660
50% for More then 39 660,01 euro

We do get "more" in return to counterbalance this
Is this all the tax that is taken out and is that for single or married or does it matter? Our tax brackets are lower, but we also have social security and medicare taken out—7.2% (and if you’re self employed its 14.4%)—state income taxes which can be up to an additional 10%, other state programs—I have about 1% taken out for state unemployment, disability, etc. and then we also have our healthcare premiums.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Starfish » Sun Oct 07, 2018 5:18 pm

s8r wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:55 pm
I am about 30 years old. I make roughly 50k a year, from which the yearly take-home salary is in the low 30k region. In my country (Finland) this is considered a mid-level salary for a white-collar employee. I save about 15k a year, so my savings rate is roughly 50% of take-home salary (I consider myself frugal).

Reading here about the financial status of Bogleheads in the US, it seems that the salaries over the pond are overwhelmingly greater. Earning six-figure salaries in the US does not seem to be that uncommon. Over here, you would have to be a doctor, top-level manager or a successful entrepreneur to make such money. For a regular white-collar employee such as a programmer or an engineer, hitting six figures seems extremely rare here. Of course, in Europe you usually get many things provided by the government that you have to finance yourself in the US, but I doubt this mitigates the pay gap.

Are white-collar employees significantly better off in the US than in Europe, or are most of the US folks here at Bogleheads just representing an American minority who have had very successful careers?

Don't forget to include hundreds of thousands for education, high property taxes, tens of thousands a month for medical insurance, low retirement benefits (this is good actually) or social security, short vacation time, the fact that you NEED a car etc.
100k is not a lot of money in the US. However if you get a job in bay area in software 300k of total income after several years is pretty common.
There are trade offs between US and UE regarding not only money but quality of life etc. There is no perfect place.
Last edited by Starfish on Sun Oct 07, 2018 5:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Starfish » Sun Oct 07, 2018 5:21 pm

BeBH65 wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 1:25 pm
Valuethinker wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:41 pm
By European standards our income taxation is low
For Comparison:

In Belgium the first 7,5K Euro are not taxed and the taxation of the remainder was recently lowered to the following:
25% for € 0 to €12 990
40% for € 12 990,01 to € 22 290
45% for € 22 290,01 to € 39 660
50% for More then 39 660,01 euro

We do get "more" in return to counterbalance this
I have a feeling that you did not include what is paid by the employer.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Starfish » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:08 pm

goodenyou wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:50 pm
In the United States, you are paid a higher salary for most jobs. Capital is also attracted to the US because of the reduced regulation and reduced welfare state that is more prevalent in Europe. For some, they prefer the opportunity for greater income, savings and financial independence that comes with it. Others prefer the government benefits afforded by high taxation as well as more vacation time that is available in Europe. The US has more universities and institutions of "higher learning" per capita than any other place on earth. Formal university education is not (solely) a meritocracy in the USA as it is in many other countries. It is big and expensive business.
I would call it a scam.
The public educations system is weakened and diluted so the kids come out of high school 4 years behind where they should be. This plays very well in the hands of expensive, private or not, education system. Jobs that should require a high school degree require a college degree, and so a very large chunk of population is made to pay tens and hundreds of thousands of $ for "high school remedial classes".
American universities are very invested in heavy marketing and have a strong presence in the tops.
Of course not everything is like that. A lot of people rip great benefits from their degrees. Medical schools, top 10 MBA degrees etc are worth the money, but there is nothing supernatural about the knowledge obtained there.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by international001 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:31 pm

It depends.. US also has the best Universities for top smartest people
And health quality is best for those who can afford it.

US is more about inequality.. If you are in the top 10% of US you live better than if you are in the top 10% of (average) Europe
Comparison goes the other way if you are in the 50%. Someplace in the middle the lines cross

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by killjoy2012 » Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:45 pm

s8r - I'm in the USA and work in IT. I'd say your general assessment is correct - it sounds like people in the USA (such as a programmer) would make more here than in Finland. But I think you also need to factor in cost of living, etc. e.g. A 1 bedroom apartment in Silicon Valley will cost you over $50k/year to rent. It's all relative.

Now could you relocate to lower CoL area in the USA and still make 75-100k as a programmer? Sure. However, I would NOT take the stories/population on this forum as being generally representative of the entire USA. This place tends to attack those with money and interests in investing it.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by goodenyou » Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:10 pm

Starfish wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 6:08 pm
goodenyou wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 2:50 pm
In the United States, you are paid a higher salary for most jobs. Capital is also attracted to the US because of the reduced regulation and reduced welfare state that is more prevalent in Europe. For some, they prefer the opportunity for greater income, savings and financial independence that comes with it. Others prefer the government benefits afforded by high taxation as well as more vacation time that is available in Europe. The US has more universities and institutions of "higher learning" per capita than any other place on earth. Formal university education is not (solely) a meritocracy in the USA as it is in many other countries. It is big and expensive business.
I would call it a scam.
The public educations system is weakened and diluted so the kids come out of high school 4 years behind where they should be. This plays very well in the hands of expensive, private or not, education system. Jobs that should require a high school degree require a college degree, and so a very large chunk of population is made to pay tens and hundreds of thousands of $ for "high school remedial classes".
American universities are very invested in heavy marketing and have a strong presence in the tops.
Of course not everything is like that. A lot of people rip great benefits from their degrees. Medical schools, top 10 MBA degrees etc are worth the money, but there is nothing supernatural about the knowledge obtained there.

Bingo. Plus the inculcation and stifling of free speech, but we won't go there.
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Watty » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:01 pm

simas wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 9:38 am
US is very big (similar to Europe) and can wary as much as UK and say Greece - it is 50 different states with its own laws, taxes, different social contracts (higher taxes for higher services).
+1

Trying to make a generalization is impossible because US salaries and living expenses are so different in different parts of the country. US workers also tend to be very likely to move around the country too and you will see posts here about people who plan on moving to a low cost of living area to retire. My impression is that moving like this is much more common in the US than in Europe especially for people with desirable skills.

You can find pretty good salary information for different types of jobs on U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics web site.

For example here is some of the data for a software developer which is what I did before I retired.

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151132.htm#st

I happen to be in the US state of Georgia(not the country) where salaries are pretty good for software developers and the mean wage is about $100K. People with the latest in demand skill set can earn a lot more, but people with skills that are in less demand could earn much less.

This needs to be compared with the local cost of living. Here in Georgia you can get a nice but not fancy house in the suburbs for about $250K. This is the type of place that a 30 year old earning what is "considered a mid-level salary for a white-collar employee" might buy. That is a nice but not prime area and houses closer to downtown or in prime areas could cost a lot more. In less desirable areas it could cost less.

Here is an example of the type of house I am talking about.

https://www.realtor.com/realestateandho ... 98&view=qv

In different parts of the US that have high housing prices, like many parts of California that house would cost many times that price. You can the housing prices in different US cities here if you are interested but these

https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-st ... ordability

NextMil
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by NextMil » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:16 pm

Yes. America is better. We have more money, social mobility, way less taxes, and the American dream. It’s why my family left Europe to come to America.

Also unemployment is at its lowest.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Starfish » Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:19 pm

I believe that moving used to be less frequent in Europe but it becomes very common with the new generation. Among people younger than 40-50 it’s normal to change several countries let alone cities. An experience American kids miss completely.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by KyleAAA » Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:23 pm

NextMil wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:16 pm
Yes. America is better. We have more money, social mobility, way less taxes, and the American dream. It’s why my family left Europe to come to America.

Also unemployment is at its lowest.
Nope.

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detai ... ir-country

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by s8r » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:23 am

Watty wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:01 pm
Here is an example of the type of house I am talking about.

https://www.realtor.com/realestateandho ... 98&view=qv
Funny that you chose this particular example. That house is very similar to mine in terms of price, size and age.

In Finland, a typical house for a middle-class couple both making 50k a year costs around 300-350k. A newly built house is typically 350k.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:41 am

I don't think it is just that the US has a higher cost of living. I think even accounting for the cost of living many Europeans are paid less.

Median household income for the Euro area is only around 20k EUR (http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui ... 04&lang=en). Even the "rich" EU countries (Germany, Belgium, France, UK) have median household incomes in the low 20k range.

Compare that against the US median which is $60k USD (https://www.census.gov/library/visualiz ... e-map.html). Even after healthcare, college and other costs the US still comes out ahead. In fact only two US states have median household incomes below $45k USD - West Virginia and Mississippi - and those two VLCOL states still have incomes significantly above the median EU household.

Even for the most lucrative careers this disparity exists. Check out the latest salary data for Harvard MBA graduates:

https://www.hbs.edu/recruiting/data/Pages/location.aspx

Median base salary in the US is 140k USD. In Europe it's 110k USD.
Last edited by HEDGEFUNDIE on Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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BeBH65
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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by BeBH65 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:41 am

Jags4186 wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 3:02 pm
BeBH65 wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 1:25 pm
Valuethinker wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 12:41 pm
By European standards our income taxation is low
For Comparison:

In Belgium the first 7,5K Euro are not taxed and the taxation of the remainder was recently lowered to the following:
25% for € 0 to €12 990
40% for € 12 990,01 to € 22 290
45% for € 22 290,01 to € 39 660
50% for More then 39 660,01 euro

We do get "more" in return to counterbalance this
Is this all the tax that is taken out and is that for single or married or does it matter? Our tax brackets are lower, but we also have social security and medicare taken out—7.2% (and if you’re self employed its 14.4%)—state income taxes which can be up to an additional 10%, other state programs—I have about 1% taken out for state unemployment, disability, etc. and then we also have our healthcare premiums.
Social security ( "Standard" Health care, Unemployment, Old-Age Pension,... ) are funded by (partially-this) taxation.
The scales are per person, if you are married one can "assign" some of your income to your partner.

as said we get "more" in return for our higher taxes
Starfish wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 5:21 pm
I have a feeling that you did not include what is paid by the employer.
As from 1rst January 2018, the social security contribution rate payable by the employer has been reduced to 25 %. It has to be noticed that this rate equaled 32,40% 1,5 year ago
BeBH65. (only an investment enthusiast, not a financial adviser, perform your due diligence).

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:28 am

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:41 am
I don't think it is just that the US has a higher cost of living. I think even accounting for the cost of living many Europeans are paid less.

Median household income for the Euro area is only around 20k EUR (http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui ... eAction.do). Even the "rich" EU countries (Germany, Belgium, France, UK) have median household incomes in the low 20k range.
I get an error when I click thru that link?

Invalid session: xtDataset is null.

For the UK, that assertion is incorrect.

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulation ... turn-level

Median household income is £27,300 or USD $35,600 or EUR 31,000. That is:

- after the longest sustained fall in real incomes since records began in the early 1800s arising from the 2008 GFC and subsequent austerity
- with the exchange rate about 30% below the pre 2008 level and c. 10% below the pre Brexit vote level?

I do not believe the German French Dutch numbers would be much different - at this exchange rate, they would probably be higher than the British (British average incomes are high but that's because we have a highly paid financial services sector which drags the average up).

Note this would include retirees, households where the breadwinner is disabled, etc.
Compare that against the US median which is $60k USD (https://www.census.gov/library/visualiz ... e-map.html). Even after healthcare, college and other costs the US still comes out ahead. In fact only two US states have median household incomes below $45k USD - West Virginia and Mississippi - and those two VLCOL states still have incomes significantly above the median EU household.

Even for the most lucrative careers this disparity exists. Check out the latest salary data for Harvard MBA graduates:

https://www.hbs.edu/recruiting/data/Pages/location.aspx

Median base salary in the US is 140k USD. In Europe it's 110k USD.
For Harvard MBAs it's going to be about destination industry. An MBA school which sends more graduates into industry (Purdue - Krannert for example) will have lower starting salaries. The London Business School number was above $110k (haven't checked recent stats) reflecting the strong orientation towards financial services of a London based business school (and also consulting).

American average incomes *are* higher and so are median incomes -- my overall sense it is around 20% but I don't have time to document that.

If you work in technology then the US probably pays by far the highest salaries. But that's if you work in Silicon Valley, not if you are a programmer for a company in St. Louis. Financial services the US pays similar levels to what people are paid in London and Hong Kong and Zurich -- maybe the stratosphere numbers are higher because of hedge funds and private equity (although people in London are also paid that kind of money).

If OP moves to America his experience will depend very much on where he lives and what job he (she?) has. I have yet to meet an American who would want their healthcare system over a European one -- if they have had experience of both. On the other hand, American houses are a lot bigger. $100 k p.a. will go a long way in a lot of American cities (if not very far in the top ones). Europe that comparison is really London - Paris - Munich. Most of the rest of Europe has affordable, commutable, suburban homes.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by jharkin » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:01 am

warner25 wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 1:17 pm
I think the answer is "both" to some degree. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the median income for a software developer is $100k, which seems to be much higher than in Europe. I've read various explanations for that and don't know what to believe. Still, some 2006 data cited on Wikipedia shows that $100k puts a US worker in the top 5% overall, and many threads on this forum have explained the selection bias towards people with extraordinarily high incomes.

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-in ... lopers.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluence ... ted_States

This is true, and not only does this board have a selection bias - many of its members have a huge blind spot to the reality of how 'special' they are.

I think people are psychologically hardwired to resist the idea that they are different. You can see it in this very thread with talk of 100k salaries being "easy to get" (very obviously not true when only 5% of Americans manage it) and 200-300k for developers being 'common' (Usually being stated by people under 30, who live in the valley, and work for the FAANGs... i.e. whiz kids who didn't live though dotcom ;) ).

I read a perfect analogy in the Boston Globe this morning. Imagine a Dunkin Donuts at 6 am. A bunch of contractors are lining up to get their coffee before heading to the days jobsite. Average income in the restaurant at that moment is about 30k per person. Now Jeff Bezos walks in. Suddenly the average income is now $20 billion per person. Is everyone in the restaurant magically better off?

Think about it.

But we have beaten the topic to death and I realize nobody's mind is going to change....

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Valuethinker » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:11 am

jharkin wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:01 am


I read a perfect analogy in the Boston Globe this morning. Imagine a Dunkin Donuts at 6 am. A bunch of contractors are lining up to get their coffee before heading to the days jobsite. Average income in the restaurant at that moment is about 30k per person. Now Jeff Bezos walks in. Suddenly the average income is now $20 billion per person. Is everyone in the restaurant magically better off?

Think about it.

But we have beaten the topic to death and I realize nobody's mind is going to change....
This is one reason why one has to quote the median income rather than the mean. Bezos would move the mean, but he would only slightly move the median income (by one person)*.

(Anyways he probably is in there already trying to hire distribution centre workers ;-)).

It's fairly widely understood that because of the dispersion of very high incomes the UK and USA have significantly higher arithmetic mean incomes than median ones. Those are the two most unequal countries in the developed world on various measures (at least of large countries) -- although Canada is up there somewhere, too.

From memory the mean Chinese income looks "developed" however if you look at the median income (adjustments for exchange rates are difficult when a country has a controlled exchange rate) that is not the case.

* Bezos is actually not paid that much. A few million I suspect - have not checked. He won't be paid a huge salary (on which he would have to pay taxes) and he won't have stock options or RSUs. Like Warren Buffett his money is tied up in the company he runs, it pays no dividend, and he has to sell stock to realize capital.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by jharkin » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:36 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:11 am

* Bezos is actually not paid that much. A few million I suspect - have not checked. He won't be paid a huge salary (on which he would have to pay taxes) and he won't have stock options or RSUs. Like Warren Buffett his money is tied up in the company he runs, it pays no dividend, and he has to sell stock to realize capital.
Yep I am well aware of the distinction between wealth and income, and mean vs. median - and I am sure the Globe columnist who wrote it was also, but deliberately misspoke in order to illustrate our unconscious biases. The small enclaves of high income and wealth tend to concentrate, so we see that for folks who happen to live in one, its easy for otherwise very smart people to be lulled into the false idea that such affluence is common and/or easy....

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:50 am

KyleAAA wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 10:23 pm
NextMil wrote:
Sun Oct 07, 2018 8:16 pm
Yes. America is better. We have more money, social mobility, way less taxes, and the American dream. It’s why my family left Europe to come to America.

Also unemployment is at its lowest.
Nope.

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detai ... ir-country
Interesting article. You would think being mobile doesn’t mean going from lowest to highest, just lower to higher. I tend to think that social mobility by percentile is a bad metric because for every person who moves up someone else must move down.

I think what would be important is the overall gain within a quintile and the spread between each quintile. I assume that spread is much more advantageous to Europeans and I also assume it is getting worse in America.

100 years ago being poor in the US may have been better than being poor in Europe, but I think that is much different today.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:55 am

Valuethinker wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:28 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:41 am
I don't think it is just that the US has a higher cost of living. I think even accounting for the cost of living many Europeans are paid less.

Median household income for the Euro area is only around 20k EUR (http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui ... eAction.do). Even the "rich" EU countries (Germany, Belgium, France, UK) have median household incomes in the low 20k range.
I get an error when I click thru that link?

Invalid session: xtDataset is null.
Corrected link:
http://appsso.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/nui ... 04&lang=en
Valuethinker wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:28 am
HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:41 am

Even for the most lucrative careers this disparity exists. Check out the latest salary data for Harvard MBA graduates:

https://www.hbs.edu/recruiting/data/Pages/location.aspx

Median base salary in the US is 140k USD. In Europe it's 110k USD.
For Harvard MBAs it's going to be about destination industry. An MBA school which sends more graduates into industry (Purdue - Krannert for example) will have lower starting salaries. The London Business School number was above $110k (haven't checked recent stats) reflecting the strong orientation towards financial services of a London based business school (and also consulting).


My point is, even for the graduates of the top MBA school in the world who are looking for the highest paying jobs, the EU can only offer them $110k. I am not sure what relevance a Purdue MBA has to this discussion.

The London Business School number for graduates going into EU jobs is also $110k base, for those working in the UK it was $102k.

https://www.london.edu/-/media/files/pr ... .pdf?la=en
Valuethinker wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:28 am

If you work in technology then the US probably pays by far the highest salaries. But that's if you work in Silicon Valley, not if you are a programmer for a company in St. Louis.
The data I have gathered thus far leads me to believe that a programmer in St Louis is still making more than a programmer in [insert second-tier EU city here], and probably even more than a programmer in London or Paris.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by pejp » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:02 pm

s8r wrote:
Sat Oct 06, 2018 12:55 pm
I am about 30 years old. I make roughly 50k a year, from which the yearly take-home salary is in the low 30k region. In my country (Finland) this is considered a mid-level salary for a white-collar employee. I save about 15k a year, so my savings rate is roughly 50% of take-home salary (I consider myself frugal).

Reading here about the financial status of Bogleheads in the US, it seems that the salaries over the pond are overwhelmingly greater. Earning six-figure salaries in the US does not seem to be that uncommon. Over here, you would have to be a doctor, top-level manager or a successful entrepreneur to make such money. For a regular white-collar employee such as a programmer or an engineer, hitting six figures seems extremely rare here. Of course, in Europe you usually get many things provided by the government that you have to finance yourself in the US, but I doubt this mitigates the pay gap.

Are white-collar employees significantly better off in the US than in Europe, or are most of the US folks here at Bogleheads just representing an American minority who have had very successful careers?
From my experience (10 years in the US, originally from Europe), salaries seem to be higher here, but I don't feel better off compared to home. You just end up paying in different ways.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by alwyn » Mon Oct 08, 2018 12:40 pm

In the US, if you don't work any health issue will destroy you, not so much in Europe.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by KyleAAA » Mon Oct 08, 2018 2:51 pm

HEDGEFUNDIE wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 9:55 am
The data I have gathered thus far leads me to believe that a programmer in St Louis is still making more than a programmer in [insert second-tier EU city here], and probably even more than a programmer in London or Paris.
At a former employer we had several teams in Europe (including Paris and London) and you are correct, in general. Paris and London are probably on par with 2nd- or 3rd-tier US cities, if only just barely, but the COL is much, much higher in those European cities.
Last edited by KyleAAA on Mon Oct 08, 2018 10:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by likegarden » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:05 pm

I grew up in Europe and went there to a Technical University for free 1960-1965. My father was a bookkeeper and had 3 children, mother was stay at home, so I got free tuition and monthly money to live from to get an equivalent of an MSME. They had no private universities then. Here you might get a higher salary, but then college is so expensive here. My parents lived from public social security comfortably over there, but here you definitely need much in savings. Over there I never heard about people having no medical insurance, was shocked about that status here. Your salaries might be lower over there, but you got a social safety net.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:20 pm

likegarden wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 3:05 pm
I grew up in Europe and went there to a Technical University for free 1960-1965. My father was a bookkeeper and had 3 children, mother was stay at home, so I got free tuition and monthly money to live from to get an equivalent of an MSME. They had no private universities then. Here you might get a higher salary, but then college is so expensive here. My parents lived from public social security comfortably over there, but here you definitely need much in savings. Over there I never heard about people having no medical insurance, was shocked about that status here. Your salaries might be lower over there, but you got a social safety net.
College: The average US public college tuition is $10k/yr, plus another $10k/yr for room & board, but if money is a concern you can live and eat at home. And you're only paying this for four years. And this is not including any financial aid. https://trends.collegeboard.org/college ... percentage

Healthcare: Unsubsidized Obamacare premiums are $3-$6k/yr, plus the maximum out-of-pocket cost of $7k/yr.
https://www.kff.org/private-insurance/i ... exchanges/

Again, the median European household is making $20k-30k USD depending on the country (before taxes!). The median US household income is $60k.

The inescapable conclusion is that disposable income (and therefore income available for savings / investments, and therefore the popularity of a site like Bogleheads) is just higher in the US.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by international001 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:06 pm

College reduces disposable income by a little. But health insurance by a lot

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/f ... -2018.html

That's why I'm saying than you are better off in US only after you earn enough. 70%-80% percentile is my crossover guess

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by NextMil » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:37 pm

international001 wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:06 pm
College reduces disposable income by a little. But health insurance by a lot

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/f ... -2018.html

That's why I'm saying than you are better off in US only after you earn enough. 70%-80% percentile is my crossover guess
Silliness. This absurd data point includes the employer paid portion as well.

Translation: the average american family of 4 has an out of pocket premium of $4,760.00. Or just over 1k a person.

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by Jags4186 » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:40 pm

NextMil wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:37 pm
international001 wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:06 pm
College reduces disposable income by a little. But health insurance by a lot

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/f ... -2018.html

That's why I'm saying than you are better off in US only after you earn enough. 70%-80% percentile is my crossover guess
Silliness. This absurd data point includes the employer paid portion as well.

Translation: the average american family of 4 has an out of pocket premium of $4,760.00. Or just over 1k a person.
Do you not think that the total compensation given to an employee factors in employer paid health premiums? And what type of insurance does $4,760 in premiums get you? My family of 2 pays $3000 in premiums and we each have $4600 deductibles and a family $12k max OOP. But it’s okay because my employer contributes $600/yr to my HSA...

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Re: Income (US vs Europe)

Post by HEDGEFUNDIE » Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:41 pm

NextMil wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:37 pm
international001 wrote:
Mon Oct 08, 2018 7:06 pm
College reduces disposable income by a little. But health insurance by a lot

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/f ... -2018.html

That's why I'm saying than you are better off in US only after you earn enough. 70%-80% percentile is my crossover guess
Silliness. This absurd data point includes the employer paid portion as well.

Translation: the average american family of 4 has an out of pocket premium of $4,760.00. Or just over 1k a person.
Well, you also have to add the premiums which are $7,674, total out of pocket costs are $12k, or $3k per person.

It's more than compensated by the higher incomes you get in the US.

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