Comparing the wealth and living standards in different cities can be pretty hard to do. Rich cities tend to come with exorbitant living costs, too. It may be easier to earn the equivalent of $1000 in London than it is in, say, Bucharest – but when that money is worth so much more in the latter, how can you sensibly compare the two?
Step forward McDonald’s. The fast food giant is one of the most ubiquitous companies in the world, selling similar products in cities all over the globe. Since 1986, the Economist has been making good use of this global presence, and producing the Big Mac Index: a measure of how many ostensibly identical hamburgers $50 will buy you in cities all over the world.
The magazine’s goal with this index was to highlight whether currencies were over- or under-valued: hamburgers, it noted, are most digestible than the rather dry economic theory of purchasing power parity (PPP). More recently, researchers at the Swiss bank UBS have done further work in this field (“burgernomics”) by working out how long the average worker would have to labour to buy a burger.
It’s the latter’s figures that our pals at Statista have used when compiling the map above. The numbers represent how many minutes the average worker in each city would have to work for before they could afford their double decker burger.