That Europeans choose to spend their money differently than Americans do does not prove your argument. As Babar said, why bother with a/c?
If that were the argument, then you go by disposable income. Still doesn't change. Did you even bother to read the study "EU vs. US"?
BTW, no need for the "Ivy-League" signifier, it really isn't going to get you any extra love.
When you write snotty things like "Let me guess, you just graduated with a degree in econ?" that's the kind of response you get. As for "extra love," I have all the love I'll ever need, thank you very much.
IME (don't want to present anything as fact when I can't back it up) Americans gravitate towards vacations in places where they can stay with family, in order to cut costs. And rarely, beyond rarely, do they go *anywhere* for more than a week.
The first is a pure conjecture on your part with zero evidence. As for shorter vacations, a part of that may have to do with the fact that, indeed, Americans, on average, work more than Europeans do. That's a fact. But what's also a fact is that Americans are more efficient per man-hour than Europeans are.
This is just not accurate, even taken among the other factors you listed. The US has a tax rate in line with most Old European countries for the middle classes that you cited.
I love the way you select out only one of the several variables I listed. Let me repeat again for you: "High economic activity, high income, low taxes (high disposable income) and ready availability of credit."
New (Eastern) Europe and Canada both have lower income taxes. It is only among the wealthy that some European countries have higher rates.
First of all, I work with someone who was singularly responsible for "New" Europe enacting lower income taxes, including corporate (and which thus resulted in rise in FDI, especially from "Old" Europe (!) and rising economic activities, leading to cries of "We must harmonize taxes" from the likes of French government).
Secondly, you have to look at all the factors (the good indicators are rising in much of Eastern Europe, but they are still far behind the U.S.). Lastly, income tax alone is not a measure of total taxation.
In other words, and again only within the framework of your argument, the middle classes in the US and the EU are similarly constrained by taxes.
I thought Americans could afford to buy large homes because large homes were cheap in the U.S. Square footage just costs a whole lot more here in Amsterdam than it does in Rochester.
Obviously you can't compare an urban area to a rural area (rural area will have bigger homes, holding other variables constant), but if you compare urban to urban of similar size and density, you will still find that Americans have bigger homes. It basically comes down to the fact that holding other variables constant, people with higher disposable income will have bigger, more expensive homes.
So, what gets crowed out?
And cars, boats, computers, A/C, mutual funds, housing, higher-level education, broadband internet service, server space to run something like Style Forum, ultra premium dog food, etc. etc.
Or simply put, whatever the heck else you wish to spend your money on.
I will also note that there is net migration into the U.S. from Europe. Again, people voting with their feet and all that.
Look, we can all decide for ourselves whether living in Europe or the U.S. is better. That is up to the individual based on many subjective preferences. But as far as economic indicators go, it is undisputable that, on average, Americans enjoy a superior MATERIAL quality of living due to some of the economic factors I mentioned. That's not some sort of a national chest-thumping. It's a fact.