Beeronomics Ousts Burgernomics

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Everybody knows of the light-heartened Big Mac index that the boys at The Economist thought up in 1986 in an idle moment as a yard stick for comparisons between countries around the world. But now, Burgernomics has just turned into Beeronomics today and Ronald McDonald would probably end up much rather having a cold beer (or warm beer if it’s in the UK, or is that just a myth?). Ronald was getting too much or a porker anyhow. It’s better to drink these days too; there are enough around the world that need to drown their sorrows.

Robert A. Ferdman and Ritchie King of the Quartz have brought us into the age of Beeronomics by inventing the Beer Index. They used the yardstick of a 0.5L of draft beer on sale at a bar or a restaurant around the world. Well, they didn’t actually do anything apart from combine a list of prices of beers around the world that are available from Numbeo (a crowd-source database) and the monthly minimum wage data that is published by the International Labor Organization (ILO). They did a few calculations and came up with the Beer Index. Sobering a story if ever you have heard one.

Divide the price of the beer that any local in any country in the world has to pay by the hourly minimum wage and hey presto as quick as the froth on your beer disappears in the frosted glass, you get the average number of hours you would have to work for you to get to buy a local beer down the boozer. The idea came from The Economist once again that produced the same index in September 2012 in time for the Oktoberfest Beer Festival in Munich. But, The Economist only used a limited number of countries (27) and decided to use the median wage rather than the average monthly wage. Quartz’s study uses 91 countries.

So, the best place to work and where you can drink yourself to the ground quickly and effectively on local beer? Puerto Rico. You can get a beer after just 12 minutes of work, which is frightening since that means that there are some that could get a beer after just a couple of minutes or even seconds of sitting at their desks.

• In the USA you would need to work double that and only end up with one after 24 minutes. 
• In the UK, the land of pubs, you would have to work 30 minutes.
Georgia would be the worst place to go for a drink with your colleagues after work as you would have to put in more than 15 hours to get 0.5L of the amber nectar. 
• The Chinese have to work 72 minutes.

Whatever next will we have that will be able to be downed by economists around the world? We shall end up with 20 academic papers now on the viability of using such Beeronomis today and it might not become a global standard, but there will be others that start up the Champagne Index or the Whatever-You-Like Index.

Purchasing-Power Parity serves at least to tell us that a currency is undervalued and that can be important, especially when January 2014 saw that a Big Mac in the USA cost $4.62 while in China it was only $2.74, meaning that the Chinese currency was undervalued by 41%. But, there’s nothing new in that. Are these indexes really worth the time they take for bored economists to think up and work them out?

What these indexes prove is that we live in the age of the scientific researcher that needs a number or a statistic to prove his point and to become believable. We have world clocks for everything; we check the rise and fall of this and that day in and day out. Mark Twain once said that “facts are stubborn, but statistics are pliable”. We all know that statistics are as pliable as anyone wishes, especially in today’s digital, fast-paced world.

We can show anything we wish with statistics, but perhaps economists might be looking at other things that are more than in need of attention, rather than playing d(r)aft-beer games.

It doesn't say a lot for our percepetion of the world if we have reduced oureconomies to burgers and beer, does it?

That's fast, fattening, addictive, too sugary, too sweet

Originally posted: Beeronomics Ousts Burgernomics

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fredquimby's picture

or warm beer if it’s in the UK, or is that just a myth?

I brew (ferment) English style beers between 18 and 22 degrees Centigrade, whereas Lager is brewed colder between 12 and 18 degrees C, so for me this explains the myth.

If you are drinking a traditional beer out of a cask that isn't chilled though, then that also could explain it, but you don't find that anywhere really and warm beer is really not something you get in any normal pub.


P.S I recently realised that Lager is called lager as you store it (condition it) for longer than ale types of beer and it comes from Lager, the german word for store. 



Reader1's picture

Screw that!  Literally-let's see a hooker index.  How long do people have to work around the world to afford a medium-grade female prostitute?  Coke skanks, Wall Street call girls, and Congressional little boys don't count.

Azannoth's picture

Funny I never heard of a "Gold Index" how much does an average worker need to buy say 1 gram of gold.

Than again the Gold price has little correlation with its demand (sic.) so it would be purely "academic"

JP McManus's picture

Or conversely, how many average workers can you buy for an ounce of gold.  

mt paul's picture

wonder hom much

beer costs


in Iran ..

Ar-Pharazôn's picture

sharia doesn't allow muslim to drink

Winston of Oceania's picture

Easy to make and sell on black market, you can get beer in Iran.

jeff montanye's picture

i want to see the 90 country index.  what's the deal?

CuriousPasserby's picture

I'm still pissed that Beck's Beer is now made in St. Louis instead of imported from Germany and I'll never buy it again. Now the really imported German beers are going up in price, but better then supporting InBev.

Winston of Oceania's picture

My area grocer, best by far in the whole of the USA, Wegmans is carrying Spaten which actually I prefer to Beck's import. I used to drink only Beck's but like you noticed the difference. Having a few of the imports left when I purchased the St Louis I did a side by side comparison and the Becks was lighter in color and flavor as well. No doubt they tried to "Americanise" the brew. At any rate buy Spaten instead or you could start to brew your own as I have, my first lager will be ready in three weeks. Prost!

TheCosmicTaco's picture

I'm mostly in Asia and follow beer prices quite closely. The past two years I've spent in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, and Malaysia. Was in Laos two weeks ago, now back in T-land. OK. In Laos at a mini art a chilled large bottle of Beer Lao, which is pretty good, costs 9000 kip, or $1.15. That's 640ml. Thailand just raised alcohol taxes a few months back. In a 7-11 here a large quality beer like Heineken now costs 74 baht, about $2.25. That's 640ml. Brews like Leo, Chang, Singha etc are cheaper, maybe 55 baht a large. The glycerin in Chang will give you a major head splitting hangover. Lately I've been drinking cans of a beer called Archa, 30 baht a can. It's not too bad. In Cambodia a can of suds such as Cambodia Lager costs only 50 cents at a minimart. Spirits are rock bottom prices in Cambo-land due to no taxes. A liter of Jim Beam or Bacardi Gold can be had for eight bucks or so. Malaysia is expensive for evil liquids such as beer, a can can cost up to two bucks. In Indonesia a large Bintang will now run close to 30,000 rupiah or three bucks. Vietnam has cheap beer aplenty, a draft can cost only twenty cents. A can of something decent like 333 or Bia Hanoi goes for fifty cents at a convenience store. Vietnamese vodka ain't bad. Figure three bucks a large bottle. Cheaper local "whiskeys" in places like Cambodia cost under a buck a large bottle. Khmer construction workers, who get paid about three bucks a day, live on the stuff. A decent cheap white spirit is lao lao in, you guessed it, Laos, a buck for a 700ml bottle, 40% alcohol. Mixes OK with sprite or just take it neat. Wine is a killer in Thailand due to high duties, cheapest bottle of plonk will be 299 baht or nine bucks for wine worth two euros.

Reader1's picture

Dang, man!  Help me get a job in Cambodia or Thailand-I was born too late to be an angry, drunken retired Nam' vet!

The Wisp's picture

Now we need an index, that tells us if we put a 5 dollar USA bill in our pocket and fly to each country, how many beers could we buy on the black market when we got there.

 sort of a vacation Planner...

Jumbie's picture

I'll try it. 90 countries, $450. Cheap data.

We pay ~$3k for each subject in our trials, and they say that's "cheap".

duo's picture

I've watched beer double in price since 2007 and wine barely move.  Beer ingredients are traded on the Comex, wine grapes on local co-operatives with no 8-figure CEO.  Hmmmmm.

novictim's picture

Now that is some excellent insight!

Thanks.  It should have been a element of this article. 

It is hard to get economists to evaluate speculation's effects on actual prices as it always makes the market look bad.

Ludwig Von's picture

We miss good ideas.

silvermail's picture

Big Mac Index - this is blasphemy and deception. Because ten years ago, the Big Mac was different.
Today's Big Mac became half of Big Mac, what we knew before. Also today, in today's Big Mac. has become twice more GMO crap and chemicals.

Zadok's picture

Very good point. The quality (or lack thereof) must be accounted for. Plastic, silicone, fillers, gmo, stripped ingredients that used to be nutrients, chemicals, etc.
To compare today vs 20-30 or more years ago is to compare food to poison.
I say it's non-food and therefore not valid for comparison!