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UNITED STATES AND ENGLAND AND WALES COMPARED.
In the comparison of income and cost of living based on the family budgets, the report uses the American-British (northern) budgets as forming the fairest basis of comparison with conditions in England. In the United Kingdom about 70 per cent of all the budgets collected were of families with incomes of less than $9.73 per week; of those collected in the United States for all nationalities (and not for the American budget alone, in which the corresponding figure is a little over 2 per cent) less than 4 per cent fell within this range, and while in the United Kingdom about half the budgets were of families with incomes under $8.52 per week, in the United States the number falling below this figure is almost negligible, comprising only 1.4 per cent of the whole and, therefore, too small in number to form a separate income class. The difference, if not of standard at least of nominal range of income, as between the two countries, is manifest, and although it can not be concluded on the basis of this negative evidence that incomes of less than $8.52 per week are insufficient to maintain an ordinary family under American urban conditions, it is at least probable, say the investigators, that families maintaining a position of independence upon an income below this sum are exceptional.
The points in connection with which budget comparisons have been especially attempted between the United States and England and Wales are: (1) The percentage of income spent on food; (2) the percentage of income spent on similar items of food in both countries; and (3) the quantities consumed and amount spent on similar items.
The following table shows for England and Wales and for the United States the average weekly family income and the average amount and per cent of the expenditure for food, the families being classified according to weekly family income:
AVERAGE WEEKLY FAMILY INCOME AND AMOUNT AND PER CENT OF INCOME
EXPENDED FOR FOOD, BY CLASSIFIED FAMILY INCOME.
$9.73 and under $14.60.
12. 42 16.99 21.51 26. 10
The point in the foregoing table which at once attracts attention is the much wider range shown between the various family incomes in the two countries than between the amounts actually spent on food, and consequently the much greater margin of income available in the American group after expenses for food have been met.
It will be observed that the average number of persons in the American budgets is 0.68 less than in those of the United Kingdom. Exact comparison in respect to age and proportionate contribution made to the family income by the children in the two countries is not possible, but the data available show that in these respects there is a general similarity.
The actual amounts spent on food per capita in each income class in England and Wales and in the United States are shown in the following table:
AVERAGE FOOD BILL PER CAPITA IN FAMILIES CLASSIFIED ACCORDING TO FAMILY
In the following table comparison is made of the consumption of certain articles of food by average workmen's families in the United States and in England and Wales: (1) Of families with total family income approximately similar; (2) of families with total amount spent for food approximately similar, and (3) of families with total amount spent for food approximately similar, allowance being made for the difference in retail prices in the two countries. Comparison is made on the basis of quantity wherever possible. Where quantity can not be given, the comparison is based on cost. The quantity consumed or the amount spent is taken as 100, and the relative consumption or expenditure in the American families as compared with this is shown in the table.
PER CAPITA QUANTITIES OF, OR AMOUNTS SPENT ON CERTAIN ARTICLES OF FOOD CONSUMED BY WORKMEN'S FAMILIES IN THE UNITED STATES (AMERICAN-BRIT. ISH-NORTHERN GROUP), AS COMPARED WITH THE UNITED KINGDOM.
income approximately spent on food
Families with total
amount spent on food approximately similar, allowance being made for percentage difference in retail prices as be. tween United States and England and Wales.
Commodity or group of com-)
Kingdom, Kingdom, Kingdom, $8.52 to $9.73; $9.73 and
$9.73 and 86.08 to $7.30; $8.52 to $9.73;
income, over; income,
income, income, over; income, United United United
States, States, States,
$14.60 to $9.73 to $14.60 to under $9.73. $9.73 to $14.60.
1 Fresh, dried, and canned fruit. In the United States, including a small quantity of sweet potatoes and jam.
In spite of the different bases upon which the above comparisons are made, a marked uniformity in the general results is shown in the consumption per capita, which is the basis of comparison adopted in all cases. The differences shown are nearly always those of degree and not of direction. Thus, even in the lowest income class of the American budgets, the consumption of certain commodities is always higher than that shown in the British budgets with which they can be compared, while other foods, even in the highest American income classes included in the table, show a consumption that is always lower. The most striking examples of the former characteristic are seen in meat and fish, in which the American consumption per capita ranges from an excess of 23 per cent to one of 95 per cent; eggs, in which the corresponding excess ranges from 8 to 116 per cent, and potatoes, in which the excess is comparatively uniform throughout, ranging from 32 to 43 per cent. On the other hand, a smaller consumption of bread and flour is always shown in the American budgets, and almost uniformly, the range being only from 27 to 34 per cent less. Much the same general results are shown in the case of cheese, in which the consumption is only something over half as much in the American families as in those of the United Kingdom, the figures showing a difference of from 57 to 29 per cent. Fresh milk and sugar are the only articles in which consumption is sometimes more and sometimes less in the American families, the variation shown being in the case of fresh milk, from 18 per cent less to 26 per cent more, and in that of sugar, from 11 per cent less to 7 per cent more.
In the classes of commodities in which the comparison has to be made on the basis of expenditure and not of quantity, uniform excess in the United States is shown in the case of vegetables and fruit. In this group of items, which includes canned vegetables, so largely consumed in the United States, the amount expended exceeds by 138 to 383 per cent that spent by the average family in the United Kingdom with which comparisons are made. The amounts spent on tea, coffee, etc., in the two countries are relatively uniform, being never more than 8 per cent less or 39 per cent more in one country than in the other.
The figures of the foregoing table illustrate, according to the report, the general effect that “The dietary of the average American family is more varied and more liberal than that of families that as nearly as possible correspond to them in the United Kingdom.” “The amount spent per capita on food in the average American family begins at a figure a little higher than that at which the British maximum stops; and the mean of the average food bill per capita of the second third, and fourth British income classes is 93.3 cents per capita, and that of the second, third, and fourth American income classes $1.62.”
The complete basis for strict international comparisons goes no further than income and cost of food. As regards rent, the report has shown that roughly this item costs something more than twice as much in the United States as in England and Wales, but as to the remaining charges on family income, such as clothing, fuel and light, beverages other than coffee, etc., tobacco, insurance, recreation and holidays, etc., the necessary data for international comparison are wanting.
But while the necessary statistical data for an exact comparison of the classes of supplementary expenditure are wanting, the report notes that there is sufficient evidence to show the general relationship to income that such expenditure would bear in the United States as compared with England. Thus, for some months in the year over a great part of the field of inquiry fuel is a heavier charge than in England and Wales, owing partly to the lighter structure of the houses, but mainly to the greater severity of the climate. No figure as to this excess in comparative cost can, however, be mentioned. On the other hand, it is noted that the methods of heating generally adopted, although less hygienic than the open fireplace, are more efficient, that the American dwelling is kept at a higher temperature than in England, and that all rooms are more uniformly heated.
The item of clothing raises wider and more difficult questions of comparison, but the report states that particulars that have been obtained go to show that while higher prices have as a rule been paid in the United States than in the United Kingdom for woolen and worsted fabrics of similar quality, a very large supply of domestic articles of wearing apparel of most descriptions is available there of standard sizes that are on sale at prices either not much higher or not higher than in England, although often less durable. Regarding other items the report makes the following statement:
In connection with the consumption of beverages other than coffee, tea, and alcoholic drinks, the great quantity of iced drinks of various descriptions consumed may be mentioned, and ice itself, mainly for the preservation of foods, is a weekly item of expenditure in the summer months in practically every household, while an ice box is a common possession and an ice-cream freezer by no means rare in working-class homes. While, therefore, ice ranks as a small distinctive charge on income, it affords one of the numerous illustrations of an expenditure that, regarded as necessary, secures at the same time its own return in comfort and satisfaction. Much tobacco is consumed, and the number of cigar ends thrown away which no one takes the trouble to pick up is one of the trifles that is noticeable.
Traveling to and from work for short distances is more expensive in America than in England, 5 cents being the usual minimum on tramways, and reduced tickets for workmen being very rarely issued. Thus, if the cars have to be used at all, the double journey nearly always costs 60 cents per week. On the other hand, it rarely costs more, the uniform fare adopted for long and short distances generally taking the wage earner as far as he is likely to travel. Holidays, recreation, and sundries, together with savings, come more avowedly and more completely within the region of the voluntary use of any margin of income that may be available than do the previous items, and the amounts are, therefore, even more elastic and indeterminable.
SUMMARY OF CONCLUSIONS.
The conclusions of the report are summed up as follows:
Summarizing now the results of the international comparison, it appears that the ratio of the weekly wages for certain occupations in the United States and England and Wales, respectively, at the dates of the two inquiries, is 243 to 100 in the building trades, 213 to 100 in the engineering trades, 246 to 100 in the printing trades, and 232 to 100 in all these trades together. Allowing for a slight advance in wages in England and Wales between the dates of the two inquiries, the combined ratio would be 230 to 100.
The weekly hours of labor were found to be 11 per cent shorter in the building trades in the United States than in England and Wales, 7 per cent shorter in the printing trades, but 6 per cent longer in the engineering trades, the ratio shown by all the occupations in these three trade groups together being 96 to 100.
As regards rents, the American workman pays on the whole a little more than twice as much as the English workman for the same amount of house accommodation, the actual ratio being 207 to 100; the minimum of the predominant range of rents for the United States towns as a whole exceeding by from 50 to 77 per cent the maximum