The Mississippi Question

UK GDP per capita peaked back in 2007.

It was nine years ago when Fraser Nelson, the editor of The Spectator, first suggested that the U.K. was poorer than any U.S. state but Mississippi. This came as an uncomfortable shock for many in Britain for whom Mississippi, as a byword for backwardness, conjures up clichés about the Deep South. Every time anyone has made the comparison since, there has been an indignant outburst from Britons keen to denounce the data.

In practice, when trying to provide a definitive answer to the Mississippi Question, no uniform, up-to-date set of data exists. But if you take the most recent U.S. figure for Mississippi’s GDP and divide it by the state’s population, you get a pretty accurate figure for GDP per capita in current dollar values. Make the same calculation for the U.K., with total GDP data divided by the population, and you end up with two comparable numbers.