Life,  Work

How Does Your Earnings Compare With Other Countries?

Reading Time: 3 minutes 


A young man, with imposing physique and streamlined facial muscles, wearily reaches for the snooze button.

He misses.


His wife, a most nubile specimen of her sex, is awoken from her slumber.

“Wha…what’s zat… get it” she says, as she kicks out under the covers – both feet hitting their target.

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So much wind power… btw wtf going on in background???

The impact has the ferocity of a wounded bull. The young man is suddenly wide awake.

He sighs to himself, pulls the covers away and turns the alarm off, shivering in the early morning chill.

It is 3:30am…

…Who is our intrepid hero?


Image result for mystery man
Whooo are you, who, who, who, who?

Why it’s your favourite personal finance blogger of course!

You see, these days apart from talking about myself in the third person – I’ve been really getting into the World Cup.

More specifically – waking up in the wee hours of the morning to catch 90 minutes (sometimes more) of what has been a thoroughly entertaining and drama packed tournament so far.

Isn’t it amazing how sports really does connect the globe? Sleep deprivation be damned!

We were talking about the world cup at the office today, and one of my colleagues remarked how amazing it was that “poorer” countries (think Panama) could be taking on traditional heavyweights (she meant England…) and “giving it a go”.

Editor’s sidenote – England… “traditional heavyweights”…just wow…

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It’s coming home, it’s coming home!

We then discussed the relevant GDP’s of each country – $61 billion vs $2.7 trillion and how amazing it is that they would be facing each other on the same playing field in such a prestigious tournament.

“I wonder what the average salary for Panama is?”

Great question Kerrie work colleague.

After some digging around, I found out the average salary is $1146 Panamaian Balboa or AUD 1548 per month -which is around AUD 18k p.a. (USD $13.7k).

Suffice to say… not a lot.

Being the naturally curious individual I am, I wanted to see how this compared with other nations.

Which brings us to this pretty chart:

“Make the text bigger you FFFF!”

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) tracks both the average wage earnings and taxation figures for each of its 35-member countries.

Gross earnings refer to the amount of money you get paid before anything gets taken out, like taxes, health insurance and retirement contributions.

The remainder is referred to as net earnings.

Here’s the original excerpt from 

“The overall size of each slice refers to the level of gross earnings, and the green portion represents net income after taxes. We illustrate the difference between these two figures with dark red referring to income tax rates, and pink referring to social security taxes. The result is a snapshot of how much workers actually take home across the OECD.

Top 10 Countries with the Highest Net Wages 

  1. Switzerland: $58,864 after paying 16.9% in taxes
  2. Luxembourg: $46,593 after paying 29.1% in taxes
  3. Iceland: $45,390 after paying 28.7% in taxes
  4. Korea: $44,892 after paying 14.5% in taxes
  5. Netherlands: $43,835 after paying 30.4% in taxes
  6. Australia: $41,655 after paying 24.4% in taxes
  7. United Kingdom: $41,608 after paying 23.4% in taxes
  8. Japan: $41,139 after paying 22.3% in taxes
  9. Norway: $40,834 after paying 27.6% in taxes
  10. United States: $39,211 after paying 26% in taxes
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Switzerland – they’re doing it hard…

Our chart reveals a few different dynamics in the OECD. First off, Switzerland stands out atop the rankings with $70,835 in gross and $58,864 in net take home pay. The combination of high earnings with low taxation is hard to beat. Now take a look at South Korea. The country ranks way down in 14th place in terms of gross earnings ($52,505) but rises to 4th in terms of net earnings ($44,892). That’s entirely thanks to a relatively light tax regime of 14.5%, which is the third lowest rate in the OECD behind only Chile (7.0%) and Mexico (11.2%).

At the other end of the spectrum, some countries have extraordinarily high taxation levels that take up significant chunks of workers’ paychecks. Belgium is the clear outlier in this regard with $58,545 in gross but only $34,834 in net take home pay. This is thanks to an average total tax rate of 40.5%, pushing it below Ireland and France.

Another interesting trend in our visualization is how many OECD countries are scrunched at the low end. Mexico, Latvia and Chile are so small that the slices are almost difficult to distinguish. In fact, the average gross earnings across the entire OECD is only $43,792 with net earnings amounting to just $32,624″.

I know we all love to compare with each other, so this is some interesting stuff!

What do you think? Did you enjoy this post? Please help me out if you enjoyed this and click on the little “follow” button at the bottom right and be a follower. This way, you’ll never miss my words of awesomeness! So do the right thing, be a subscriber and get it straight to your inbox fresh out of the oven!


  • Innocent Bystander

    Love the analytics side of things… I’d like to see a more weighted taxation chart e.g. our tax system is based on the salary bracket whereas some countries have a flat %. Generally speaking, I know Australia pays well in comparison but we also get taxed like a b!atch.

    • The Frugal Samurai

      Hello Innocent Bystander! Glad to hear from you – no problemo, I’ll dig around and see what else I can find regarding the Oz tax system, yknow was just discussing with a colleague at lunch… his brother-in-law is a handyman by trade and collects $5k CASH in hand each week… us suckers and our PAYG jobs… study hard for a good job – shoulda left in y10 and done an apprenticeship instead “spits on ground in disgust”

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