The Per Capital Dog Population Is An Economic Indicator

Pooches and Prosperity

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Sep 18, 2011

In Latin America, with Brazil #1, being middle class means owning a dog.

According to the Economist, more dogs mean more pet food, “knick-knacks,” and veterinary care. Based on pet food sales, the Latin American dog to cat ratio is 6 to 1. (In Europe, cats and dogs are equally popular.) Called a “star market,” Latin American spending represents 10.2% of global pet care sales.

Broader implications? Perhaps this is not a dog story at all. Instead, we are considering the impact of higher income, increasing world trade, and economic growth on what we consume.

Thinking of past econlife posts, we can add dogs to beer, Coach purses, and pecans as economic indicators of ascending affluence.

The Economic Lesson

After we subtract taxes from personal income, the result is our disposable income. Disposable income can either be spent or saved.

In the U.S., per capita personal income in 2010 ranged from a high of $56,001 for Connecticut to the country’s low of $31,186 in Mississippi. 30.1% of all Brazilian households and 44.8% of Argentina’s households have the U.S spending power of $25,000.

An Economic Question: Using this Bureau of Economic Analysis map, explain how personal income varies in the U.S.

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