How to Calculate GDP Per Capita

If you add up the value of all the goods and services produced in a country, you get the gross domestic product, or GDP. This number includes amounts like government expenditures for education and the military as well as business transactions. Unpaid and unreported work and black market activities are not counted as part of GDP. Per capita GDP is the average amount of goods and services produced per person.

Where to Find Data

The Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce furnishes gross domestic product data on its website as well as forecasts of future economic activity. You can also find GDP information on financial websites. The U.S. Census Bureau provides up-to-date population figures and projections of future growth on its website.

GDP Per Capita Formula

To calculate GDP per capita, divide the nation's gross domestic product by its population. GDP is typically figured for periods such as one year or one quarter. For example, the GDP for the United States in 2014 was $16.768 trillion. The Census Bureau estimated the population was 319 million, so you have $16.768 trillion divided by 319 million, or a per capita GDP of $52,564.

You can estimate future per capita GDP using forecasts of both figures. The calculation is the same, except you use projected estimates.

Real GDP Adjustment

Because GDP measures the total production of the nation, comparing gross domestic product from year to year is useful for assessing economic growth. However, inflation can cause the dollar amount of GDP and GDP per capita to increase and thus distort real growth figures. To correct for inflation, economists calculate real GDP, which means gross domestic product adjusted for inflation. To figure real GDP, add the inflation rate for the past year to 1 and divide the result into the gross domestic product for the current year. Once you make this adjustment, you can calculate real GDP per capita just as before.

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