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Question
QuickView
Choices
Curve Question
Difficulty
Psg/Game/S
Difficulty
Explanation
PT16 S2 Q14
+LR
Necessary assumption +NA
A
16%
160
B
4%
159
C
2%
158
D
75%
169
E
3%
156
148
156
165
+Harder 146.82 +SubsectionMedium
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This is a Necessary Assumption question because it is asking us for an answer which the argument in the stimulus depends on. This is a classic NA question stem that we want to become very familiar with and confident in easily and confidently ID’ing.

The stimulus is not particularly confusing in how it is written, but it does get into some concepts which can be a challenge.

In 1980, our Country had a higher GDP than Europe by \$5,000. Great. Ten years later, that gap had grown to \$6,000. At this point, we might anticipate a lot of ways this argument could go wrong. Because this is a comparative relationship between Country A and Europe, we want to recognize some of the common mistakes made with this sort of relationship. Because our points of comparison here are themselves able to change, we can’t say anything about the absolute values of either country’s per capita GDP. It might appear that Country A is wealthier than it was 10 years ago, but at this point in the argument, we can’t say this for sure. Perhaps Country A is exactly the same and Europe is \$1000 poorer. Or perhaps both are poorer. Maybe Europe is \$3000 poorer and Country A is merely \$2000 poorer. This would give us the same change in comparative value. Because we can’t establish either country’s actual GDP to a firm number, both economic blocs could have moved in either direction on the GDP spectrum. While the argument won’t necessarily develop in a way that utilizes this, it is highly probable that it will and we should learn to recognize the nuances of this sort of relationship.

We now see the payoff in the reference to “a rising per capita GDP.” As already discussed, the information provided can not establish a rising GDP. So this sets up a huge gap in this argument. We can accept as a premise that rising GDP indicates rising standard of living, just not that a rising GDP has necessarily occurred.

The conclusion is in the second part of the final sentence: “the average standard of living in Country A must have risen . . . .”

Given the analysis here, we are probably expecting an answer which will somehow address the identified gap. There may be a lot of clever ways to do this, though, so we should evaluate each answer closely to see if it works.

Answer Choice (A) No. We don’t care about increases in population. Nothing concerning the population size needs to be true. Per capita GDP is totally unrelated to population size. Population is how many people there are. Per capita GDP is, basically, how much money those people make, on average. It can rise and fall totally independent of population. This is a popular wrong answer choice, though. If you chose this, it may be worth brushing up on some basic economic terminologies. The LSAT uses these sorts of subjects a lot, and having a basic familiarity is quite helpful on questions like this one.

Answer Choice (B) This might actually hurt this argument because it indicates to us that the stats about Europe are more flexible than this argument seems to presume. If Europe’s standard of living fell, this indicates its GDP may have fallen as well, which could explain the increase in the larger GDP gap without the need for Country A’s GDP to have risen. More to the point, though, is just that the two numbers are completely independent of one another. All we know is the difference between them. Either can rise, fall, or stay the same so long as the other moves appropriately to match it.

Answer Choice (C) This doesn’t have to be true. Europe is a big, dynamic economic bloc so it wouldn’t be surprising if this were true. But it just doesn’t matter. We’re saying Country A has had a higher GDP than Europe as a whole. Whatever is going on within Europe to create its economic situation as a whole is none of our concern.

Correct Answer Choice (D) This looks good. This means that at least some of the \$1,000 increase in relative GDP came from growth in Country A. Maybe the entire \$1,000, or maybe just \$1, but this ensures that the GDP of Country A did, in fact, grow from 1980 to 1990.

Let’s negate to test it out. If Europe’s per capita GDP was \$60,000 in 1980 and dropped by \$1,001, that means its per capita GDP is \$58,999 in 1990. From these numbers, we can calculate Country A’s stats. We are +\$5,000 on Europe in 1980, and +\$6000 in 1990. Did our GDP grow? No. It would have gone from \$65,000 in 1980 to \$64,999 in 1990. \$64,999 is less than \$65,000. So this answer has eliminated a contingency that must not occur if our conclusion is to follow.

Answer Choice (E) No, this is similar to Answer Choice C. Europe is a big, dynamic economy and we are only addressing the average of the whole. Any individual member could totally be way bigger than Country A, so long as the average of all members is less.