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August 02, 2004


Carnival of the Capitalists is up again over at Business Evolutionist. I especially liked the Speculator's piece and via Simon's World you are led to this page. This guy needs some help. I'm sure you all aware of the Big Mac index compiled by The Economist to measure purchasing power parity? Well, Stephen Frost in Hong Kong wants to use the same benchmark to measure labour costs. Specifically, how many hours must a McD's counter hand work in order to be able to afford a Big Mac? To help him, next time you're near a store, try and find out the Big Mac price and the hourly wage and send it direct to him. He's already got China, HK, India, Malaysia covered but all and any data points from elsewhere would help.
This is the sort of thing that blogging should be good at. There's ~ 200 countries out there and it really shouldn't be too difficult to find a blogger (or more) in each country who can provide that info. So, could those readers who run their own blogs pick up on this? You can link either to me or direct to Stephen.
You may think it a little trivial but there is a serious economic point to be made. The Big Mac is the closest thing we have to a standardised product manufactured locally just about right round the globe. Exactly why The Economist uses it. Juxtaposing PPP values from their survey with labour costs should show up some interesting things.
Again, you might think this trivial but if we can actually get valid results from a significant portion of the globe we'll have a data set that the professionals will find very interesting. If we do manage to get real data from all those countries McD's sells in, well, we'll have done a real piece of research in the social sciences. Not often a blog offers you that is it?
Thinking a little further, we actually need three data points. Hourly wages, Big Mac price and local to US$ exchange rate. Post all three to the comments section here and I'll collate it for Stephen.
Please pass the word far as you can so that we can get as complete a data set as possible.

August 2, 2004 in Weblogs | Permalink


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Tracked on Aug 5, 2004 9:05:56 AM


Hi Tim. Thanks for helping to spread the word about the Other Big Mac Index. I've now got people in Indonesia and Thailand on the case, and I put up Philippines data yesterday. Hopefully there are few more China figures yet (I'm going up to Guangzhou next week and a blogger in Xiamen has offered to find out wages and prices there). But you're right, this is a serious exercise and the more figures I have, the more interesting it will be. Thanks again. Stephen

Posted by: Stephen Frost | Aug 4, 2004 1:40:47 PM