The 5 most expensive countries on the Big Mac Index

The 5 most expensive countries on the Big Mac Index

Dateline: Jakarta, Indonesia

For years, The Economist has published the “Big Mac Index”, a study based on the assumption that a widely-available good like the Big Mac can indicate inaccurate valuations in foreign currencies. The survey also indicates some of the world’s most expensive countries to eat at McDonald’s.

While the average price of a Big Mac in the United States is all of $4.68, the same sandwich will cost you a lot more after currency adjustments in the five most expensive countries for fast food.

Due to the lack of reliable data and an inconsistent policy on ranking high inflation countries, we chose to remove Venezuela from this list; the Big Mac Index claims its sandwich comes in at $7.15.

The 5 most expensive countries on the Big Mac Index

Brazil Big Mac Index

Brazil is one of the top five most expensive countries on the Big Mac Index

5. Brazil – $5.28
While critics of the Big Mac Index point out how Argentina’s insane president cooks the books on her country’s double-digit inflation, Brazil is officially the most expensive country in South America to buy a Big Mac. As of a recent survey, Brazilians pay a little more than 10 Brazilian real for each individual sandwich. As one of the most expensive countries in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s no surprise that Brazil makes the list.

Denmark Big Mac Index

Denmark is one of the top countries on The Economist’s Big Mac Index

4. Denmark – $5.37
The Big Mac Index places socialist Denmark as the fourth most expensive hamburger in the world – almost a full $1 more expensive than the same sandwich in The Land of the Free. While Denmark has been ranked one of the most economically free European countries, it also imposes stringent regulations on businesses. Taxes don’t help, either; Denmark has raised its value added tax (VAT) from the low single digits a few decades ago, to its current 25% level. Income taxes are as high as 59%. And if you eat too many Big Macs, you might get hit by Denmark’s “fat tax”.

Sweden has one of the world's most expensive Big Macs

Sweden has one of the world’s most expensive Big Macs

3. Sweden – $6.16
Sweden’s position on the Big Mac Index shows, according to the survey, that its kroner currency is overvalued by 35.1%. An average price of 41.6 kroner for one of McDonalds’ classic sandwiches makes Sweden the third most expensive country to buy one, which should come as no surprise to those who understand Sweden’s obssession with social and income equality (despite proof it hasn’t really worked).

Switzerland Big Mac Index

Switzerland is one of the world’s most expensive countries to eat in, as backed up by the Big Mac Index

2. Switzerland – $6.72
McDonald’s combo meals in Switzerland can cost as much as $15 thanks to the country’s Swiss franc and its status as one of the most expensive countries in the world. However, such prices may seem tame when you consider that a decent dinner in Zurich can easily cost $60 without alcohol, and a decent hotel room in Geneva can easily top $200. At those prices, you may be rushing to McDonald’s to chow down on the world’s second most expensive Big Mac. Everything else is so darn expensive. According to The Economist’s data, the Swiss franc is a whopping 47.5% overvalued. Hmmm…

Norway Big Mac Index

Norway is the most expensive country to buy fast food according to the Big Mac Index

1. Norway – $7.51
It’s hard to find inexpensive food in Norway. The country’s high VAT tax on restaurant dining makes it hard to eat out on a budget, for a number of reasons. And that’s reflected in Norway’s position on the Big Mac Index. Norway, one of the most expensive countries in the world, is also home to the priciest McDonald’s combo meal, at around $23. Norway prides itself on healthy and organic living, which may explain the lack of uproar over expensive fast food.

Of course, many expats prefer to eat GMO-free foods and avoid McDonald’s. If you live in one of these places, all the more reason to do so.



Andrew Henderson

Andrew's mission is simple: travel the world to find "boots on the ground" opportunities to share with you. His perpetual travels provide offshore strategies you can apply in your own life to create more wealth, protect what you have, and live more freely. Get his free Strategy Session by clicking here.
  • Jean Valjean

    Interesting that Denmark has such a high tax rate and their minimum wage is 20 usd, but McDonald’s claims it can’t pay more even though they pay 7.25 and have a much lower tax rate. Mranwhile the cost of a big mac is only about a dollar more.

    Sounds like selfish greed to me.

    • http://www.nomadcapitalist.com/about/ Andrew Henderson

      Why don’t you volunteer to pay them with your money then?

    • Wayne_

      Denmark doesn’t have a federally mandated minimum wage.

      • Jean Valjean

        True. Denmark has powerful trade unions which have negotiated a minimum wage of around 20$ an hour. They don’t smash their unions in Denmark and the people aren’t under the thumb of corporations.

        However, here in the US they undermine and disempower unions and that makes the people beholden to the government for a minimum wage.

        Be that as it may, Denmark’s minimum wage is about 20$ an hour. How that was achieved is irrelevant to the topic.

        • William Liggan

          The question is…What does $20.00 an hour buy you in Denmark? With 25 VAT and 59% tax that 20 dollars just got thin. Much more expensive.

          • Jean Valjean

            It buys a lot more than our taxes do. Better schools, free education, free health care, etc. And they aren’t at war all the time.

            BTW, do you really think we have low taxes? They only seem low because we borrow so much. If we were to stop borrowing and start paying that money back what do you think our tax rate would be then? And we get a lot less for our money.

            I’d happily pay 59% if my kids could go to college for free and we all could have free health care and I didn’t have to worry that my son might join the military to pay for school and end up dead or crippled or a vegetable.

          • World

            Not free you halfwit.And no they do not have better higher education than the United States.Also, I can get a nice home on the water with a swimming pool, yard 3 car garage, central air and heat,etc. for much cheaper.The quality of life in the suburbs of the US is the best in the world.I’ll take it over some cold tiny house in Europe.

          • Jean Valjean

            Let’s try to be civil. I know it’s hard, being from the United States, but I’m sure if you apply yourself we can have a reasonable and mutually pleasant conversation.

            I misspoke. It is not “free.” Rather, it is government paid education, which is in turn paid for by the taxpayer.

            The point is that their priorities are education, healthcare, and the happiness of their people in general rather than the benefit of wealthy elite and corporate interests.

            The US also misunderstands it’s major flaw when it comes to government. They believe that special interests (poor, wealthy, corporations, middle class, etc.) are using money to influence politicians and this has broken our Republic. In fact, it is the ability of politicians to buy the voters which is the problem.

            Every voter votes based on his or her own self interest. Some vote to get new rights, others vote to suppress other’s rights. Everyone wants a tax break as well as an entitlement like welfare, or mortgage insurance deduction, or green tax credit, etc. and they will reward the politicians who bring home the bacon while simultaneously railing against government pork.

            Of course, it’s only “pork” when someone else is getting it.

            Meanwhile, when those hard core conservatives get laid off or fall on hard times they’ll hop on the dole just like anyone else and get their fair share (or more) of food stamps and other “entitlements.” Just the same, when blacks hit the big time and achieve great wealth and success they turn away from their “victim” mentality and start to recognize the laziness and incompetence and brutishness of others in their own cohort who failed to achieve anything in life.

            I met a 39 year old woman living on government assistance a few months ago who is a die hard Republican. “Why are you a Republican?” I asked her. She said, “Because I don’t ever want my military benefits to be reduced.” You see, her husband had a heart attack while in the Air Force and she gets an income until she can get a job or until her daughter turns 18. Despite having a generous life insurance policy, a quarter million dollar home (already paid for), she’s going to continue to cash in on welfare as long as she can. Yet, she’s a conservative.

            But I digress.

  • Seth Williams

    Wow…so most of the places are only like 50 cents higher…big deal…..

  • idic5

    5.37 – 4.68 = .69 ; is that almost a full dollar…hmmm com si com sa… I just that meh; it is actually 14 pct higher. but the wages there are 21 , more than twice as much as the usa’s 7.25. So that is a relative small increase in product price for a very very big labor cost price.

  • Wayne_

    An aspirational purchase? Wow…..lofty goals.

  • Yuri32x

    Raise the Minimum wage = Your ‘cost of living’ will just increase through the roof. You get paid more, so why can’t you pay more?

    • FCB-ayern

      No problem for me 😀

      Cheers from Norway ^^,

  • Jean Valjean

    My comment speaks specifically to the minimum wage at McDonald’s which is, as you may recall, the topic of this article.

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