National Geographic : 2010 Sep
30% 41% 42% 43% 70% 25% 50% NONESSENTIALS ESSENTIALS AND SERVICES HOUSEHOLD GOODS LEISURE AND RECREATION CLOTHING AND FOOTWEAR FOO D AND NON ALCOHO LIC BEVERAGES HOUSING OTHER COMMUNICATIONS U.S.A. $81,623* Japan $58,687 Brazil $18,074 Germany $47,402 Kenya $2,555 *TOTAL CONSUMER SPENDING DIVIDED BY NUMBER OF HOUSEHOLDS; KENYA DATA EXTRAPOLATED FROM PREVIOUS YEARS GRAPHIC: MOLLIE BATES. SOURCE: EUROMONITOR INTERNATIONAL CULTURE Percentages indicate spending on categories deemed essential. Each circle shows a breakdown of the nation's 2009 house- hold expenditures. Costs of Living "Gain may be temporary and uncertain, " Ben Franklin presciently said, but "expense is constant and certain." The current financial crisis has pared the wealth of developed nations, but housing, food, and clothing remain the staples of spending patterns everywhere. In 2009 households in rich countries spent proportionately less on such vitals than their counter- parts in emerging or developing states. Today economists are keeping an eye on young markets like China, where savings rates run high and spending is likely to increase as wages rise and growth leans less on exports. They're also looking at the fast-growing category of communications. "Mobile phones," says U.K. - based market analyst Media Eghbal, "are now driving spending and becoming 'essential' items." By 2020 they could be ubiquitous--- meaning time, at least, may be spent the same everywhere. ---Jeremy Berlin "Other" includes health care, insurance, education, and transportation costs.