On the Philippines and the State of Kentucky

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I read this article on the Economist that showed what countries the US States were nearest to in terms of total GDP. Turns out, the Philippines was most akin to Kentucky.

Source: The Economist

Since GDP measures of well-being or the standard of living in a country, let’s put it to the test. Here’s a rural area the Philippines and in Kentucky (they have a lot of horse farms there):

The Philippines' rural areas (left) and Kentucky's rural areas (right).

Well they’re quite similar. Very idyllic, and all that. I guess which countryside is better kept and more scenic is just a matter of taste.

Let’s take a look at the urban areas. Here are the skylines of their respective capital cities (Manila on the left, Louisville on the right):

Manila's skyline (left) and Louisville's skyline (right).

You can already see the difference, look at the difference between the overall cleanliness of the two pictures. Smoggy, dirty, full of slums Manila, and the cleaner nicer appeal of the Louisville skyline. Of course I’m not forgetting that population differences must be factored into the total GDP in order to come up with an individual’s average standard of living. Kentucky’s GDP per capita in 2009 was $31,883 while the Philippines’ GDP per capita was $1,752.

Well then, I think it’s obvious that the Philippines is inefficient as hell (well come to think of it hell is extremely efficient, think of the many souls they have to subject to eternal damnation.) Whether it’s labor overutilization, capital underutilization, a lower level of technology, or that we are just a little more laid back, I don’t know.

Of course, prices would also be higher in the United States compared to the Philippines, so part of that GDP per capita advantage is set off by higher prices. I just hope we’d be able to find a way to change that.

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