Living on a Dollar a Day

A book I recently read frequently cited a popular statistic: the percentage of a population living on less than a dollar a day. The figure is often meant to imply that a group of people is poor, but logically it does no such thing. In fact, unless income levels are simultaneously given, it suggests frugality not poverty, a virtue not a handicap. Because the statistic says nothing about earnings, it is not a useful observation and it does not help to make any useful judgments. If a person is living on a dollar a day, but making more than that amount, then that person is living wisely. Indeed, it’s an adage: live beneath your means, we are told.

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