The Gas Can and the Egg

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Ever wondered about the gas prices in other countries?  Perhaps Moldova or Cameroon, or Norway?  While answering a research question for a student, I stumbled on an enormous and freely downloadable report of gas prices for over 170 countries put out annually by GIZ- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, which (if the Google translator is correct) roughly means German Society for International Cooperation. “’International Fuel Prices’ is a long-time effort of GTZ on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development to provide decision-makers with global data on fuel prices. The worldwide comparability of fuel prices helps implementing a rational energy pricing policy.”

Apparently the Germans are as good at engineering reports as they are cars.  The full version of the 2009 report is 114 color pages packed with charts, graphs, maps, benchmarks, etc.  If you need the most up-to-date data, then download the sample report of the current year, which includes a brief executive summary and two massive charts listing retail gas and diesel prices for the majority, if not all, of the 170 countries.

And you can play along too!  At the bottom of the reports page, you’ll find this message and link:  “Your Contribution - International Fuel Price Survey:  In order to broaden the database and to provide data series throughout the year we decided to invite the public to participate in our study. Please assist us by completing the form on our special webpage.”

Being curious, I followed the link, which takes you to the Sustainable Urban Transportation Page, where at the bottom of the front page, you can click another link to provide information about your city.  Then you are transported to a form where ou are asked for the following:  “Who can help us? You can.  And it's quite simple. By filling in the latest fuel prices - fuel (regular and premium) and diesel fuel - as well as the price of a medium-sized hen's egg, you can contribute to keeping our database up-to-date.”

This request seemed so left-field to me that for a moment I thought they were kidding (“We want a shrubbery,” anyone?) until I read in a later paragraph the explanation that, “The price of a medium-sized hen's egg is of great value to us in assessing local purchasing power.  All reported prices should reflect "normal" conditions; one-day price spikes or purchases at top-end supermarkets shouldn't find their way into our database.”  Learn something new every day!