It costs a lot less for Norwegians to enjoy a weekend of vice than almost anywhere else in the world.
Norway is the sixth most affordable country in the world for the purchase of alcohol, cigarettes and various narcotics in relation to income, according to a new survey. It's a rise from 19th place the year before.
Figures relative to income
Many people who have visited Norway only to be shocked at the price of a beer will likely not believe the rankings, but key to understand is the rankings are based on the share of income. As salaries are high in Norway, so Norwegians generally have more disposable income than a tourist.
The annual Bloomberg Global Vice Index compares the share of income needed to maintain a broad weekly habit of cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine and opioids across more than 100 countries.
It compares the relative buying power within each country, rather than the pure price data. For example, at a total cost of $280.90 for a “basket” of goods, Norway is more expensive than every other country in the top ten, but ranks sixth due to the high incomes enjoyed by its citizens.
Having said that, the basket is substantially cheaper in Norway in real terms than countries including the USA and Australia.
What's in the basket?
Bloomberg’s “basket of vice” tracks the average retail prices for the following goods, with data sourced from the UN, World Health Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund:
- A pack of cigarettes, popular and premium
- A bottle of alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and spirits
- A gram of amphetamine-type stimulants, including methamphetamine and/or ecstasy
- A gram of cannabis, including marijuana hashish resin and/or cannabis oil
- A gram of cocaine, regardless of salts, paste or base forms
- A gram of opioids, including heroin and/or opium.
Less than 20% of weekly income for Norwegians
According to the figures, such a basket costs less than 20% of the average weekly income in Norway, compared to 21.1% in Germany, 29.4% in the UK, 35.6% in our neighbours Sweden, and a huge 53.9% in the USA. The five countries with the cheapest relative basked in the world are Luxembourg, Bahamas, Switzerland, Iceland and France.
According to Bloomberg, the difficulty in collecting data on illegal activity means survey responses often have a lag, which makes comparisons harder. Nations with missing data weren’t included in the overall index and those with data had wide estimated ranges.
The report also states that while new laws and regulations remain key in setting narcotics prices, those dynamics may be in flux as more sales move online. The new avenues make some drug markets less risky as they let users “buy drugs with a cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, and have their purchases delivered to them in a concealed manner,” the United Nations 2017 World Drug Report says.