Considerably richer than US

In 2008, people in the UK will become richer than their US counterparts for the first time in more than 100 years. So it's not all bad news...

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Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

According to consultancy Oxford Economics, average GDP per capita in the UK will hit £23,500 in 2008, marginally higher than the equivalent figure for the US of £23,250. It’s the first time this has happened since Queen Victoria was on the throne, and Britannia well and truly ruled the waves (or pillaged wealth from the colonies, depending on your point of view).

It’s an impressive turnaround for the former ‘sick man of Europe’, which is reaping the rewards of a decade and a half of economic growth. After being chucked out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1993, when interest rates were astronomical and the country was mired in recession, our GDP per capita was a third below that of the US (and a third below Germany, which is now 8% lower).

Of course, one of the main reasons for the narrowing gap is the weakness of the US dollar (which will soon be worth about as much as it was during the Victorian era, at this rate). This might be bad news for the American economy, but it’s great if you’re planning a holiday to the US this year – these days a tenner will virtually get you on to the high rollers table in Vegas.

But that’s not the whole story, according to Oxford Economics’ Adrian Cooper. ‘The UK has been catching up steadily with living standards in the US since 2001, so it is a well-established trend rather than simply the result of currency fluctuations.’ We’re guessing that Posh and Becks had a detailed discussion on this very point before deciding to decamp to LA this year – before deciding they were too rich to care…

Unfortunately, we may not actually feel any wealthier than our US chums. Since goods and services tend to be much cheaper across the pond, our £23,500 won’t go quite as far as their £23,250. But it’s definitely a moral victory...

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