Bloomberg News

Upset About the Price of Gasoline? Get Some Perspective Here

June 21, 2013

Gas Prices

A fuel pump at a gas station in Brooklyn, New York. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg

Think gasoline is expensive? It’s all relative. The cost of filling up the 39-gallon tank of a Chevrolet Suburban in Turkey is $389.22, while in the U.S. it’s $137. In Venezuela, it’s just $1.56.

The price of gas is one of the most universal complaints -- whether it’s teeth gnashing at the water cooler or deadly protests on the streets. This week, we’ve launched a new data visualization about the price of gas around the world that shows which countries are most justified in their laments. Hint to my fellow Americans: We’re not even close.

The project started with a simple question: How much does the price of gas vary country to country? My colleagues at Bloomberg Rankings, a team of number junkies that enjoys making lists of the Best-and-Worst everything, thought a simple comparison of prices wasn’t good enough. Americans paying $3.52 a gallon with an average income of $140 a day aren’t hurting as much as Mexicans paying a similar price with a daily wage of $30.

The result was a quarterly gas price slideshow that showed both price and “Pain at the Pump” -- the percentage of daily income needed to afford a gallon of gas. The slideshow was so popular, the Bloomberg Visual Data team decided to turn it into... well, you’ll just have to click here and see for yourself.

The third tranche of data for the new interactive graphic was inspired by an insightful Bloomberg.com reader, Simon Lim, who pointed out that cheap gasoline can be a mixed blessing when it encourages people to overindulge. The U.S. has some of the most affordable gas in the world, but since Americans burn through more fuel than anyone else, even cheap gas can cost a lot.

We’ll be updating the interactive graphic every quarter with new gas prices and more context about what’s driving them in each of the 60 countries we profile.


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