Dollars, yen, or marks don't tell the whole story of the gap in world wages. Comparing the hours of work needed to buy certain products, the International Metalworkers Federation in Geneva found industrial workers real wages vary immensely. A US autoworker, for example, puts in 23 1/2 minutes of work to earn enough to buy a kilo (2.2 pounds) of beef; a Brazilian would have to work 1 hour 58 minutes for the same purchase. A British shipyard worker must work 53 hours to buy a refrigerator that his West German counterpart could buy with only 43 hours.
The biggest differences show up in Asia. Television set workers in Korea must work 595 hours to buy the color TV set they make and those in Japan 161 hours. Yet a US electronics worker has to work only 69 hours to buy a set imported from one of these countries.m