The United States of America was officially formed on July 4th, 1776, when thirteen states
declared their independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. This was centuries after
this region, which was a part of what was then called The New World, was officially
discovered by Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. In the centuries that followed European
settlers would arrive in droves, with many of the first expeditions arriving from Spain,
but later from France, Germany, Holland, Scotland and England, among other European nations
claiming some slice of the American pie. Today, many U.S. citizens have European ancestry,
while not necessarily sharing much in common with their long-lost kin. Thomas Jefferson
may have once famously written in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal,
but we thought it would be fun to see how equal, in some respects at least, the modern
US citizen is now with the modern EU citizen, in this episode of The Infographics Show,
The Average American vs. The Average European.
Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell button so that you can be part of our
First of all, to give us some idea of how much European there is flowing through the
American bloodstream, let’s take a look at America's largest European ancestry groups.
According to the Census Bureau, approximately 49 million (49,206,934) Americans said they
had German ancestry; 36 million (35,523,082) Irish ancestry; 27 million (26,923,091) English
ancestry; 18 million (17,558,598) Italian ancestry, 10 million (9,739,653) Polish ancestry,
9 million (9,136,092) French, 6 million (5,706,263) Scottish, 5 million (5,102,858) Scotch-Irish,
5 million (4,810,511) Dutch, 4 million (4,211,644) Swedish, and 3 million (3,060,143) Russian.
Other large groups included Welsh, Czech, Hungarian, Portuguese, Danish, and Greek,
while many people were also described as mixed ancestry. With this Euro-connection in mind,
how much does the average American have in common with the average EU citizen?
Let’s start with some basics. The median age, meaning that half the population is younger
and half the population is older, is 42.7 in the EU and 37.9 in the U.S. Life expectancy
in the EU is 82.4 years for women and 76.6 years for men. American women on average will
live to 81.94 years, and American men 77.11. When it comes to making babies, American women
are slightly more active, with the average number of births per woman being 1.84, and
European women giving birth to an average of 1.58 children. Just to clarify here, this
doesn’t mean women are miraculously bearing partial .58 humans, rather it’s just an
average taken from the female population and the number of births.
Let’s now look at some physical attributes. The average height for an American man is
5’ 9.5" (176.4 cm), while collective data for the entire EU is hard to come by. Europe,
however, has some of the tallest people in the world, with the Dutch coming in at an
average height of 6’ (183.8 cm) for men. Dutch women are also at the top with an average
height of nearly 5’7” (5’ 6.75”) (169.9 cm), whereas American women on average are
5’ 4” (162.9 cm) tall. In fact, most member countries of the EU have a greater average
height than that of Americans. That cannot be said about body weight, with America regularly
coming in the top five countries in the world for average weight. The average male in the
U.S. weighs 194.7 lbs (88.3 kg), and the average female 165lbs (74.7 kg). The UK has the heaviest
people in Europe at 185 lbs (84.0 kg) for men and 152 lbs (69.0 kg) for women. This
is about the same as the land of giants, Holland, even though on average UK nationals are much
Now that we’ve looked at mortality and the body, let’s delve into money matters. Americans
are generally thought to be a hardworking bunch of people, culturally ambitious, and
with a penchant for wanting to come first. This might be reflected by the fact that the
USA has the most billionaires in the entire world at 565, one of whom, Microsoft’s co-founder
Bill Gates, being the richest of them all with a fortune of around $87 billion. By comparison,
The EU is home to 489 billionaires, with the richest being Spanish business magnate Amancio
Ortega, who is worth around $85.8 billion dollars.
But what about the average Joe among us? According to polls, the median gross wage for workers
in the U.S per household was $43,585 dollars per year, which is the 6th highest in the
world. The highest median gross wage in the world per household was Luxembourg at $52,493
dollars per year, with two other EU nations also above the U.S. in Sweden and Denmark.
In terms of income tax paid, the U.S. is below many EU member countries. The average income
tax paid in the U.S. is 22.7% of earnings, with the highest country in the world being
EU member Belgium at a whopping 42.8%.
How does this affect the quality of life? Standard of living is a difficult thing to
judge, and wherever you look lists will differ. For example, the USA’s gross national income,
the spending power of the individual, is only behind the EU country of Luxembourg. Standard
of living is another matter. Again, lists differ, but almost always the best standard
of living top ten countries is dominated by EU countries and other European nations, with
Canada, New Zealand and Australia also in the running. EU countries also ranked highly
on the World Happiness Report 2017, with 5 EU member states being in front of 14th placed
America. Many of these countries also rank highly regarding a very expensive cost of
living, which may seem confusing given they are reportedly so happy.
Some factors may help explain this. The highest healthcare costs in the world go to, you guessed
it, The United States. Americans also work very hard for a highly developed country.
It’s stated that the USA is in 13th place in terms of working the most hours, and while
some EU members are above the U.S., there are poorer EU members that rank low on standard
of living and happiness indexes. Taking paid annual leave into account, the EU states by
law that each worker should have at least 4 weeks of paid vacation, while there is no
such law in the U.S. and the decision is left to the employer. The average is around 10
days per year in the U.S., far lower than in the EU. The average paid vacation time
in the U.S. after 20 years’ service at one company is 20 days. Many EU countries also
have more, or the same, public holidays as Americans enjoy.
The U.S is also a fairly expensive place to receive a university education, with a report
in 2015 stating that the average student debt in America was $29,000. Still, this was much
lower than England, whose students will owe almost double that amount after graduation.
EU countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and the Czech Republic, have
very small tuition fees, while in Denmark, Sweden and Finland, university is free. The
U.S., however, has a lower household debt-to-GDP than many Euro-nations, including big borrowers:
Denmark, The Netherlands, Britain and Sweden. A 2017 report puts the USA in 10th place for
So, what do these countries get for their money? Well, Americans enjoy living in much
bigger houses on average than any country in the EU, with the average house size being
around 2,000 square feet (186 m²), second only to Australia, according to a 2015 report.
Denmark has the biggest houses in the EU at around an average of 1,500 square feet (139
m²) per house, while the UK is only around 800 square feet (74 m²) on average. Americans
also have more motor vehicles per person, being the third biggest vehicle owners in
the world according to a 2014 report. With 797 vehicles per 1,000 people – excluding
two-wheelers – only Luxembourg comes close to the U.S., and most EU countries are far
Where else does the money go? Well, quite a lot on entertaining oneself. Whether drowning
tears or living La Vida Loca, a lot of money earned is spent on alcohol. The Europeans
are easily the world’s most formidable drinkers, with Eastern Europe topping the charts of
alcohol consumption per capita in the world, and almost all EU countries drinking more
than the USA, except for Italy and Sweden. Eastern Europe is also the cheapest place
to drink, with Slovakia and the Czech Republic selling beers at an average of $1.50 from
bar to supermarket, compared to a U.S. average of more than double that.
Finally, let’s talk about love. In many EU countries marriage rates have fallen dramatically,
but this has to some extent become a global phenomenon.
The average age of men and women in the U.S. getting married is 29 and 27 respectively,
which is considerably lower than just about all countries in the EU whose couples often
wait until well after 30. In the U.S. in 2015, a report states that 6.8 per 1,000 people
tied the knot, which was considerably higher than most European countries, with the EU
average at 4.5 in 2015. The divorce rate that year in the EU was 2.0, almost half of the
marriage rate. The U.S. had a similar rate of marriage to divorce at 3.6. If not marrying,
people haven’t stopped sleeping with each other, but the Europeans, according to a survey
by Durex, are doing it a lot more. The survey stated the most the sexually satisfied countries
in the EU were, Spain, Italy, Greece, The Netherlands, and Germany, with the USA data
showing a low rate of satisfaction compared to most EU countries. As for first timers,
only the EU countries of Britain, Austria, Germany, and Czech Republic have a younger
age in which people lose their virginity, with the USA being a fraction higher than
those countries at age 18.4.
On the topic of love, we come to the end of today’s comparison. If you enjoyed it, be
sure to check out our other video, “10 Surprisingly High Paying Jobs.” So, who do you think
lives a better life? The average American or the Average European? Let us know in the