Israel Is Much Richer Than Mitt Romney Thinks

Mitt Romney is taking some much-deserved flak for implying that Palestinians’ “culture” single-handedly explains their economic deprivation relative to Israelis, ignoring the obvious influence of living under decades of military occupation. But he’s also working with bad economic data:

As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality.

Israel’s actual Purchasing Power Parity adjusted GDP per capita is $31,400, and in this case not doing the PPP adjustment doesn’t make a big difference. Israel is, in other words, way richer than Romney thinks. Israel is about as rich as Spain or Japan, while Romney sees it as comparable to Estonia or Trinidad.

Meanwhile, the question a cultural explanation of Palestinian poverty would have to answer is why are the Palestinian territories so much poorer than Jordan or Egypt?