The Digital Economist Index

The Economist has long had the Big Mac index, a surprisingly useful index for all kinds of things (though the magazine use it primarily to track over/undervaluation of a local currency. The Big Mac is a useful indicator because it is locally produced with local labor, but subject to stringent standards in terms of production and provisioning.

The digital version of the Economist, on the other hand, should be the diametrical opposite of the Big Mac – it is the same all over the world (the Economist does relatively little tailoring of its product, seeing its customers are globalists) and the price for delivering it is, of course, the same in all countries (with some provision for sales taxes.) Consequently, you would expect the product to have one price, all over the world.

Alas, that is not the case.

I was rather irritated when I found that a digital subscription to The Economist would set me back $186 in Norway, but only $110 in the USA. A bit of clicking later, and I had found the magazine’s pricing structure. It is rather simple: A standard price for regions: Europe (£125), The Americas ($110), Africa ($175) and Asia ($179.99), and then special pricing in local currencies for just a few countries (India, Japan, UK, South Africa, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, as far as I can see.) This yields the following pricing structure:

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In other words, outside North and South America, you get to quite a premium for the same product. One might speculate about why: It could, for instance, reflect the customers’ willingness to pay (In Japan and Scandinavia, The Economist might be luxury good, a way to signal your membership in the global economy) or a desire to protect a large paper subscription base (which I suspect is the reason for the relatively high price in the UK.) It is quite a bit harder to understand the $175 Africa price, or the Indian one.

Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see what this looked like corrected for GDP per capita. The result, which rather pleasing for a Norwegian, is herewith presented as the Digital Economist Index for your viewing and – since I have uploaded the spreadsheet to Google Docs – for your fiddling pleasure):

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(had to break this up for screen size, apologies if your country is missing…) As is eminently visible, the price I pay in Norway, adjusted for GDP, is actually less than in the USA. Consequently, I should be a happy camper. Think I will still do the US subscription. Or get it via the library.

And now I really must do something more useful…

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