Median income is a metric used to identify the midpoint of a given nation’s income distribution. Half of a country’s residents earn an income that is higher than the median, while the other half earn an income that falls below the median.
Because median is slightly different from an average, or mean, it is also slightly more insulated against extreme "outlier" values that could throw off the accuracy of a statistic.
For example, consider the following sample group of people and their incomes:
Mike - $30,000 Ahmed - $40,000 Stephanie - $50,000 Midori - $40,000 Contessa - $25,000 Gary - $55,000 Jordan - $1,000,000
Thanks to Jordan's unusually high salary, the average, or mean, of all these incomes is $177,142, which is wildly inaccurate for all seven people listed. However, the median (also called "typical") income is $40,000, which is fairly accurate for everyone but Jordan.
World Bank tracks a number of income- and poverty-related metrics, including GDP per capita, GNI per capita, GINI coefficient per country, and median income. As of March 2021, the 10 countries with the highest median incomes ranked as follows:
10 Countries with the Highest Median Income, March 2021 (PPP, Current Int$):
- Luxembourg - 26,321
- United Arab Emirates - 24,292
- Norway - 22,684
- Switzerland - 21,490
- United States - 19,306
- Canada - 18,652
- Austria - 18,405
- Sweden - 17,625
- Denmark - 17,432
- Netherlands - 17,154
Note that these amounts are in current "international dollars", which is a theoretical dollar often used in country-to-country comparisons. International dollars are not equivalent to U.S. dollars, or euros, or any other real-world currency.
As for the other end of that list ...
10 Countries with the Lowest Median Income, March 2021 (PPP, Current Int$):
- Congo, Democratic Republic of - 395
- Madagascar - 398
- Burundi - 475
- Malawi - 484
- Guinea-Bissau - 486
- Central African Republic - 491
- Mozambique - 529
- Zambia - 545
- Uzbekistan - 591
- Rwanda - 621
According to 2013 data from Gallup, the median household income worldwide was $9,733 (PPP, Current Int$). Countries with the lowest median income included Libera, Burundi, Mali, Benin, Togo, Sierra Leone, and Madagascar. This data was based on self-reported data that was gathered between 2006 and 2012.
For the full list of countries and their median incomes in (PPP, Current Int$), see the table below.