Michel and Marianne

A scala in Latin is a ladder. The German artist who drew the infographic below in 1965 must have had an education in the classics, because a ladder was the figure he chose as a matter of reflex to compare factory pay-scales around the globe.The dpa-infografik company recently re-issued it to mark its 70th anniversary in business.

-- dpa-infografik GmbH

As an information visualization this is fairly simple, setting up the vertical scale and scattering the data loosely to draw the reader in. The scattering is an early version of a technique known as the jitterplot, which is handily explained in this infographic from @joemako

These numbers are an education in what has changed in the world. Back then, US factory workers had the "good jobs" that have now been destroyed by Washington's economic policies. Curiously, German workers earned only half as much. I was surprised to see New Zealand workers were so high up. New Zealand did not feel particularly prosperous in those times. It was hard to buy quality goods. Availability of everything from cars to shoes was limited by a legal regime called import licensing.
Still, the numbers here supposedly factor all that in, comparing hourly rates of pay, converted to Deutschmarks and adjusting for differences in purchasing power. A US worker got 8.70 DM and an Indian worker 0.51 DM per hour.

The figures are types: Uncle Sam, a RCMP mountie, an English trawlerman, the typical German Deutscher Michel, an Austrian in gamsbart hat, a shapely French Marianne, an Argentinian gaucho, a Japanese salaryman, a Yugoslav miner and an Indian porter. In those days it was thought clever, not racist, to depict people by stereotype.

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