What is Per Capita in the Field of Economics?

Filed in Articles by on March 21, 2022

– What is Per Capita –

You may probably have heard this phrase used multiple times. To provide answers to your question on “what is per capita?” as relates to Economics, where it crosses comparable boundaries of individuality to mean data. Read through this article for more information. 

What Is Per capita

“Per capita” refers to the number of people in a certain area. It’s a Latin expression that roughly translates to “by the head.” This word is widely used to report an average per person in statistics, economics, and business.

Continue reading to discover how to use and comprehend this phrase in various instances.

What Does “Per” Mean?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines this word “per” to bear prepositional and adverbial synonyms as: in accordance with, accordance to, for each, for every, each, etc. It also describes it to mean prefixes and abbreviations in sentences as: through, utterly and percentile.

Our area of interest in this definition focuses on a more analytical definition as revealed in subsequent sections. 

But first let’s define the entire concept.

What is Per Capita?

Per capita is a Latin term that means “by heads” or “for each head,” and is idiomatically translated as “per person.” Government statistics, economic indicators, and built environment studies are all examples of where the phrase is employed in the social sciences and statistical research.

We use it in statistics instead of “per person” (although per caput is Latin for “per head”). It’s also used in wills to specify that each of the listed beneficiaries shall receive equal parts of the estate through devise or bequest.

We get a more realistic comparison of economic production across nations when we use the per capita definition as a statistic. It aids in the comprehension of genuine economic progress. For example, a country’s GDP may increase by 3% in a year while its population grows by 1.5%.

While the economy expanded, population growth accounted for 1.5 percent of that growth. With more people, economic production would definitely rise, but this does not imply productivity growth.

In economics, it is used to calculate GDP per capita, real GDP per capita, GDP (PPP) per capita, and Gross National Income per capita (GNI).

It’s a metric that enables us to compare information from various countries with varied populations.

A per stirpes partition ensures that each branch (Latin stirps, plural stirpes) of the inheriting family receives an equal piece of the estate. The ‘2-0 rule,’ a statistical approach that determines which group is greater per capita, is often employed with this.

A group is the largest per capita under the 2-0 rule if it has both the greatest overall size and the largest group of the items in issue, resulting in a 2-0 score.

How to Calculate Per Capita

Per Capita Formula

The formula to calculate per capita is: measurement per capita = measurement / population

This enables for more accurate analysis across countries, resulting in a more comparable measurement. We may use it in various social sciences and economic data such as GDP.

Returning to economics, per capita GDP is often used to calculate GDP. This enables us to compare nations with drastically different population sizes.

We have introduced some terms in the above sections, let’s define those terms introduced. 


What is GDP (Gross Domestic Products)?

GDP is an abbreviation for Gross Domestic Product.

The total monetary or market worth of all completed products and services produced inside a country’s boundaries in a certain time period is known as GDP. It serves as a complete assessment of a country’s economic health since it is a wide measure of the entire domestic output.

They normally estimate GDP annually, although it is also calculated quarterly. The government of the United States, for example, publishes an annualized GDP estimate for each fiscal quarter and the calendar year.

Types of Gross Domestic Products

These are the types of Gross Domestic Products:

1. Nominal GDP

This is a measurement of economic output in a country that takes current prices into account. It does not account for inflation or the rate at which prices rise, both of which might overstate the growth rate.

All products and services that are counted in nominal GDP are valued at the prices at which they sold in that year. To compare nations’ GDPs in strictly financial terms, they calculate nominal GDP in either the native currency or US dollars at market exchange rates.

When comparing various quarters of production within the same year, they utilize nominal GDP. Real GDP is used to compare the GDP of two or more years. This is because, by removing the impact of inflation, the comparison of various years may now be based only on volume.

2. Real GDP

Real GDP is an inflation-adjusted measure of an economy’s production in a year, with prices maintained constant from year to year to isolate the influence of inflation or deflation from the overall trend in output. GDP is prone to inflation since it is dependent on the monetary worth of goods and services.

Rising prices boost a country’s GDP, but this does not always represent changes in the number or quality of products and services provided.

As a result, merely looking at an economy’s nominal GDP might make it impossible to determine whether the number has climbed because of a genuine increase in output or simply because prices have risen.

To calculate an economy’s real GDP, economists employ a method that accounts for inflation. Economists may account for inflation’s effect by adjusting production in any year for price levels that existed in a reference year, known as the base year.

This allows you to compare a country’s GDP from year to year to determine whether there has been any genuine increase.

A GDP price deflator, which is the difference in prices between the current year and the base year, is used to compute real GDP. For example, if prices have risen by 5% since the base year, the deflator is 1.05. Real GDP is calculated by dividing nominal GDP by this deflator.

Because inflation is always a positive figure, nominal GDP is usually greater than real GDP.

Real GDP considers changes in market value, narrowing the gap between year-to-year production numbers. If there is a considerable difference between a country’s real and nominal GDP, it might show that the economy is experiencing severe inflation or deflation.

3. GDP Per capita

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita is calculated by simply dividing total GDP by the population. In international markets, they usually state per capita GDP in local current currency, local constant currency, or a standard unit of currency, such as the US dollar (USD).

GDP per capita is a key metric of economic success and a helpful statistic for comparing average living standards and economic well-being across countries. However, GDP per capita is not a measure of personal income, and it has certain well-known flaws when used for cross-country comparisons.

It does not account for a country’s income distribution. Exchange rate movements might skewer cross-country comparisons based on the US dollar and don’t always represent the buying power of the nations under consideration.

GDP Per capita Formula


When the national economic output is divided by the whole population, the GDP per capita formula is calculated. To put it another way, it is the fair distribution of the country’s gross domestic product among its citizens to symbolize the country’s quality of life.

The following is the formula for computing GDP per capita:

GDP Per capita = GDP of a country / population

If just looking from one moment in time, nominal GDP may be employed; however, if comparing over time periods, real GDP makes more sense.

Calculate GDP per capita Example

Country X has a tiny but rising economy. The country’s GDP was believed to be approximately $400 million last year, while the country’s population, according to the most recent census data available, is 200,000. Determine the GDP per capita of country X.


Country X GDP: 400000000

Country X Population: 200000

Using the formula above, 

GDP Per Capita becomes; $400000000 / 200000

Therefore, GDP of country = $2000

4. GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)

While purchasing power parity (PPP) is not a direct measure of GDP, economists use it to see how one country’s GDP compares to other countries’ GDP in “international dollars” using a method that adjusts for differences in local prices and costs of living to make cross-country comparisons of real output, real income, and living standards.

How to Calculate GDP

There are three (3) approaches to calculating GDP

‣ The Production (Output) Method

This method calculates the entire value of economic output and subtracts the cost of intermediate items consumed, rather than assessing the input costs that contribute to economic activity (like those of materials and services).

The spending method looks ahead from costs, while the production approach looks backward from a state of accomplished economic activity.

‣ The Expenditure Method

The expenditure method, also known as the spending approach, determines the aggregate amounts various groups spend in the economy. The expenditure technique is used to calculate the GDP of the United States.

The following formula may compute this method:

GDP = Consumption (C) + Government spending (G) + Net Investment (I) + Net Exports (NX)

‣ The Income Method

This method of measuring GDP is a compromise between the two other methods. The income method estimates the income received by all elements of production in an economy, including labor wages, land rent, interest on capital, and corporate profits.

They perform adjustments in the income approach for goods that are not considered payments to elements of production. For example, they class certain taxes as indirect business taxes, such as sales taxes and property taxes.

Depreciation—a reserve put up by firms to provide for the replacement of equipment that wears out over time—is also included into the national income. The total income of a country is the sum of these factors.

What is GNP (Gross National Product)?

Gross national product (GNP) is the total market value of the final products and services generated by a nation’s economy during a time (typically a year), calculated before depreciation or consumption of capital used in the manufacturing process is taken into account.

It differs from net national product, which is calculated after they have made such a deduction.

The GNP is essentially similar to the GDP, with the exception that the latter does not include income received by a country’s people from foreign investments (minus the income earned in the domestic economy accruing to nonnationals from abroad). The gross national product (GNP) shows a country’s economic activity.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why does the USA have a high per capita GDP?

Ans: “That is a very long list. Natural resources. Highish average intelligence. Good legal framework, low corruption levels, culture of entrepreneurship, a culture that allows you to fail, a fairly free market, a culture of meritocracy, private property rights, relatively low tax burden.
There are other things, but it isn’t infrastructure. When the US became wealthy, the infrastructure got built. It was organic to the nation.”

2. What is the PPP-adjusted GDP per capita?

Ans: “Qatar is the top country by GDP per capita based on PPP in the world. As of 2017, GDP per capita based on PPP in Qatar was 124,121 international dollars. The top 5 countries also include Macau, Luxembourg, Singapore, and Brunei Darussalam.
GDP per capita (PPP based) is gross domestic product converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity rates and divided by total population. An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GDP as a U.S. dollar has in the United States.
A purchasing power parity (PPP) between two countries, A and B, is the ratio of the number of units of country A’s currency needed to purchase in country A to the same quantity of a specific good or service as one unit of country B’s currency will purchase in country B.
We can express PPPs in the currency of either of the countries. We usually compute them among large numbers of countries and expressed in terms of a single currency, with the U.S. dollar (US$) most commonly used as the base or “numeraire” currency.”

More FAQs on Per Capita

3. Why world bank use GNI per capita but not GDP per capita?

Ans: “The World Bank gathers data on both per capita Gross National Income (GNI) and per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the world’s countries, along with many other statistical measures.
The most conspicuous use of GNI per capita is in classifying countries into one of several income groups–low-income, lower middle-income, upper middle-income, and high-income.
Reading between the lines of the Bank’s website, those classifications are linked to questions of each country’s eligibility for different loans, some offered on substantially subsidized terms and others on close-to-market terms.
The poorer the country, the more such subsidized loans it is eligible to receive, holding the quality of its policies and institutions constant.”

FAQs on Economy

4. What Is the Growth Rate of Real GDP Per capita?

Ans: “The growth rate of real GDP per capita is the same as what money GDP can measure except it considers of the population.
For example,suppose a country has a real GDP growth rate of 5% per year ,and that the growth rate of real GDP per capita is 2%per year.”

5. Is per capita Income a True Index of Economic Development?

Ans: “It depends upon country to country. For countries like Australia, Germany etc, PCI (per capita income) certainly is a true index for economic development whereas it is not the case with a country like India.

In India 1% of the population enjoys nearly 75% of the total country’s income.
Most percentage of the Indian population even do not have basic amenities like food, education, healthcare, etc.

Apart from inequality on the lines of caste, region and religion, economic inequality is the most horrifying one which may lead to a rage among the poorest half of the society someday in the future.”


6. What Is Per capita Real Output?

Ans: “It is the total production of a country divided by its population.
In order for this production to be comparable across countries (and different time periods) they express it in constant prices, that is as if the prices are the same in every country and do not change year by year.
This is the per capita real output, or per capita real GDP.”

7. Population: What Is the Average U.S. Income per capita?

Ans: “Heard from my high school teacher, the average income is around $40,000 a year.
However, interestingly, an American may get a double amount of income when someone comes to China, no matter how well he or she performed in the US.”

8. What Is the Definition of ‘per capita Gnp’?

Ans: “Take a country’s GNP (gross national product) and divide that figure by its population.
GNP is the market value of all products and services produced in one year by the citizens of a country. For example, the American GNP measures the production levels of any American or American-owned entity, including those abroad (but are still American citizens or American-owned entities).
GDP is the market value of all products and services produced within the actual country.”

10. Why Do People Say ‘per Capita’ instead of ‘per Person’?

Ans: “Per capita sounds very impersonal. They use it in government and statistical contexts. “Per person” sounds more personal so they use it when dividing up a restaurant bill, for example.”

If you found this article informative, do well to share with your friends and loved ones.

Best Regards!

CSN Team.

Comments are closed.

Hey Hi

Don't miss this opportunity

Enter Your Details