Global GDP Per Person Is 4.4 Times Higher Than 1950, But Inequality Has Also Grown Substantially
Max Roser is an economist at the University of Oxford and the founder of Our World in Data. Roser recently compiled this chart which shows the per capita growth rate of each nation since 1950. You can see a larger version here which can be enlarged by clicking on the chart.
Global GDP per person is 4.4-times higher today than in 1950, but growth has been far from uniform. Some countries like Singapore and Taiwan have experienced per capita growth rates of 20 or 30 times, while other nations like Haiti and Afghanistan, because of wars and revolutions mostly, are actually poorer than in 1950.
Several takeaways from the data and general explanations of what the numbers mean:
1. GDP is a measure of the monetary value of all goods and services made within a country. Per Capita GDP is calculated by taking the nation's total Gross Domestic Product [GDP] and dividing it by the nation's population. The statistics in the chart are adjusted for inflation and cost of living, among other things.
2. Per capita GDP does not take into account inequality within a nation, so many individuals will make more than the average while others make far less.
3. Norway is now the richest nation in the world with per capita GDP of about $76,000. The United States is 6th, at $53,000. Norway is blessed with lots of oil and natural gas and has invested its wealth to create a highly educated and innovative workforce with little unemployment. Luxembourg is second at $69,000.
4. Per Capita GDP in the Central African Republic is just $619 a year, almost 50% less than it was in 1950. Norwegians are, on average, more than 100 times richer than people in the Central African Republic. Most of the poorest nations are in Africa, many of which have suffered through numerous wars and revolutions.
5. On the other hand, some nations like Ireland and Singapore have grown dramatically richer in the last 70 years, both now surpassing the United States.
And finally, the author Max Roser cautions that while the average wealth of a nation is important, it doesn't tell the whole story. If wealth and income aren't shared equally, many individuals in a wealthy nation can still feel quite poor.
Roser: "What this research shows is that it very much differs between countries and over time who is benefiting from economic growth. While in the US, for example, most of the income gains went to the richest members of society this is not true of other countries where economic growth was widely shared among all."
By: Don Lam & Curated Content
Chart Credit: CC-BY attribution, Author Max Roser