Budgeting

Gas Prices Around the World

You might be feeling pain at the pump, but it could be worse; gas is a lot more expensive in some other countries.

Historically high gas prices in the United States have led to consumer complaints, political consternation and even some changes in tax policy, but a look at prices paid in countries around the world reveals that things could be worse. Gas prices in the United States are in the bottom half of a global measure, and the lowest for economically advanced countries.

The average price of a gallon of regular gasoline is $4.92 as of June 7, according to AAA, compared to $3.05 a year ago According to data from GlobalPetrolPrices.com, an energy data tracking company, gas prices in the U.S. ranked 70th among the 170 counties tracked, with Venezuela having the lowest gasoline prices and Hong Kong the highest. GlobalPetrolPrices updates its gasoline data weekly (sometimes monthly) and has a different U.S. price, $4.79 per gallon as of May 30.

Have a look at how the U.S. compares with other countries, and then we’ll discuss what factors contribute to differences between nations.

CountryPrice as of May 30 in USD per gallon  
Australia$5.45  
Belgium$8.10  
Benin$3.73  
Brazil$5.78  
Canada$6.49  
China$5.50  
Denmark$10.02  
France$8.06  
Finland$9.64  
Germany$8.80  
Greece$9.29  
Hong Kong$11.21  
Iceland$9.47  
India$5.09  
Ireland$7.91  
Israel$8.24  
Italy$7.78  
Japan$4.85  
Jordan$6.30  
Kuwait$1.30  
Madagascar$3.84  
Malawi$6,32  
Mexico$4.55  
Mozambique$4.59  
Netherlands$9.20  
Norway$10.70  
Pakistan$3.43  
Poland$6.52  
Qatar$2.18  
Russia$3.03  
Saudi Arabia$2.35  
Sierra Leone$4.34  
Singapore$8.76  
Sweden$9.05  
Turkey$5.80  
Ukraine$6.51  
United Kingdom$8.17  
United States$4.79  
Zimbabwe$5.46  
    

Gas Prices Affected By Taxes, Oil Production 

Nevin Valev, owner of GlobalPetrolPrices, says several factors influence the differences between countries, mainly whether countries produce oil and the amount of taxes they charge.

According to the Energy Information Administration, 56% of the price of gasoline in the U.S. goes toward paying for the oil, while 15% goes to taxes, 16% for distribution and marketing and 14% the cost of refining.

The U.S., Valev said, taxes gasoline at a low rate compared to other countries, mainly because people in the U.S. drive a lot and it wouldn’t be politically acceptable to tax at higher rates. On the other hand, countries like Denmark are smaller, and people drive shorter distances, so taxes and gasoline prices are much higher.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, countries with lower gasoline taxes than the U.S. are Russia, Indonesia and Brazil. The highest gas taxes are in the United Kingdom, followed by the Netherlands and Turkey. 

In the U.S., when the price of oil goes up or down 10%, the price of gasoline will change roughly 7%, while it will change just about 3% in Europe, where taxes are a larger portion — and the cost of oil a smaller portion — of the price.

Another general rule is that oil-producing countries can more easily subsidize domestic gasoline prices when oil prices are high. This doesn’t happen in the U.S., however, because the government doesn’t control the cost of oil or gasoline like countries that are members of  OPEC (Organization of Oil Exporting Countries) countries do, Valev said. The same holds true for several other large oil producers, including Canada and Brazil. And in Norway, a major producer, fossil fuels used domestically are heavily taxed. 

Country Gas Affordability Ranked

GlobalPetrolPrices also ranks global gasoline prices according to affordability and the cost of consumption for 119 countries. Affordability refers to the cost of filling a 40-liter tank (about 10.6 gallons) as a percentage of monthly income. The consumption ranking is how much income is actually spent on gasoline. In countries where people don’t drive much, the consumption percentage could be very low, even if the cost and affordability is high.

As of May 30, the U.S. ranked 85th globally in the amount of income spent (3.4%) on the gasoline people use and 4th in affordability with a tank of gasoline costing 0.9% of per capita monthly income.

In these rankings, the country with the highest prices, Hong Kong, ranks the lowest for the amount actually spent, with just 0.5% of income spent on gasoline. People in the West African country of Benin spend the most on gasoline or 11.2% of income.

The most affordable gasoline can be purchased by residents of Qatar, while gasoline is least affordable in Mozambique, where 40 liters of gasoline costs more than 129.7% of per capita monthly income. People in Mozambique don’t drive much, however, spending 5.5% of their income on gasoline.

GlobalPetrolPrices.com doesn’t have affordability and consumption rankings for Venezuela, which has a two-tiered pricing system. Venezuelans pay a subsidized price of 10 cents a gallon for the first 120 liters a month if they have a valid “fatherland card.” After 120 liters, the price goes to 50 cents. However, various media reports say gasoline can be difficult to get in Venezuela, and people can wait in line for hours.

CountryConsumption: % of income spent on gas.Affordability: cost of 10.6 gallons of gas as a % of monthly income
Australia2.0%1.3%
Belgium0.8%2.4%
Benin11.2%36.6%
Brazil4.8%10.6%
Canada4.9%2.0%
China1.7%6.7%
Denmark1.4%2.1%
France0.8%2.8%
Finland1.9%2.5%
Germany1.5%2.4%
Greece3.8%6.9%
Hong Kong0.5%3.1%
Iceland1.9%2.0%
India1.6%33.3%
Ireland0.6%1.2%
Israel2.2%2.4%
Italy1.0%3.1%
Japan1.3%1.5%
Jordan8.0%18.7%
Kuwait1.1%0.7%
Madagascar1.1%104.4%
Malawi2.8%101.8%
Mexico4.2%6.9%
Mozambique5.5%129.7%
Netherlands1.4%2.2%
Norway0.8%1.7%
Pakistan2.8%42.5%
Poland1.7%5.4%
Qatar0.8%0.6%
Russia2.2%4.0%
Saudi Arabia2.6%1.5%
Sierra Leone2.6%108.3%
Singapore0.6%1.8%
Sweden1.4%2.3%
Turkey0.5%8.9%
Ukraine3.0%22.1%
United Kingdom1.3%2.6%
United States3.4%1.0%
Zimbabwe3.3%57.0%

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