July 2010: New estimates for GNI, GDP, PPP and population based on 2009 data. (See ranking tables below.)
The Quick Reference tables available here show the most recent World Bank estimates of total population, gross domestic product (GDP), and gross national income (GNI). The tables include a ranking of countries both by total size and in per capita terms.
Measuring the size of economies
There are many ways to measure the size and performance of an economy. The relative size of economies, reflected in the rankings provided here—and changes in rankings from one year to the next—depend on the specific indicator and the method used to covert local currencies to U.S. dollars. In using these data, it may be useful to keep the following points in mind:
World Bank Atlas method
The World Bank’s official estimates of the size of economies are based on GNI converted to current U.S. dollars using the Atlas method. GNI takes into account all production in the domestic economy (i.e., GDP) plus the net flows of factor income (such as rents, profits, and labor income) from abroad. The Atlas method smoothes exchange rate fluctuations by using a three year moving average, price-adjusted conversion factor.
Purchasing power parities
Purchasing power parity (PPP) conversion factors take into account differences in the relative prices of goods and services—particularly non-tradables—and therefore provide a better overall measure of the real value of output produced by an economy compared to other economies. PPP GNI is measured in current international dollars which, in principal, have the same purchasing power as a dollar spent on GNI in the U.S. economy. Because PPPs provide a better measure of the standard of living of residents of an economy, they are the basis for the World Bank’s calculations of poverty rates at $1 and $2 a day. The GNI of developing countries measured in PPP terms generally exceeds their GNI measured using the Atlas method or using market exchange rates.
Market exchange rates
The total GDP data shown here measured in current U.S. dollars use annual, market exchange rates. This means that the values and derived rankings are subject to greater volatility due to variations in exchange rates. Inter-country comparisons based on GDP at market prices should, therefore, be treated with caution.
Why do rankings change?
Year to year changes in the nominal level of output or income of an economy are affected by a combination of forces: real growth, price inflation, and exchange rates. Changes in any of the three can affect an economy’s relative size and, therefore, its ranking in comparison to other economies. The economic series shown are measured in nominal terms, and so their level from year to year is affected by changes in the general price level. The Atlas method dampens variability caused by fluctuations in exchange rates, while the PPP method eliminates the effects of differences and changes in relative price levels. Nominal GDP, perhaps the most familiar measure of aggregate economic activity, is most subject to price and exchange rate effects.
Ranking tables (new estimates for 2008 posted 1 July 2009):
Regional tables from the 2009 World Development Indicators:
Key indicators: regional comparisons for People, Environment, Economy, States and Markets, and Global Links.
Country comparisons: East Asia & Pacific, Europe & Central Asia, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East & North Africa, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa
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More technical descriptions of the indicators discussed above are as follows:
Gross national income (GNI) in US$ Atlas method: GNI is the sum of value added by all resident producers plus any product taxes (less subsidies) not included in the valuation of output plus net receipts of primary income (compensation of employees and property income) from abroad. Data are in current U.S. dollars, converted from countries’ respective national currencies using the Atlas method, which uses a three-year average of exchange rates to smooth effects of transitory exchange rate fluctuations. (GDP & GDP per capita growth rates, however, are calculated from data in constant prices and national currency units, not from the Atlas method estimates). The World Bank favors the Atlas method for comparing the relative size of economies and uses it to classify countries in low, middle and high-income categories and to set lending eligibilities in order to reduce short-term fluctuations in country classification.
Purchasing power parity gross national income (PPP GNI): This measure is GNI converted to international dollars using purchasing power parity. An international dollar has the same purchasing power over GNI as a U.S. dollar has in the United States. The World Bank favors this measure for accurate measurement of poverty and well-being; in effect, it substitutes global prices for local measured prices, thereby more accurately reflecting the real value of the good or service in question. This is especially true of non-tradable services (haircuts are the example) which are assumed to produce the same level of welfare from one country to another, but which vary widely in their measured local price.
Gross domestic product (GDP) in current prices: GDP is sum of gross value added, at purchaser prices converted at market exchange rates to current U.S. dollars, by all resident producers in the economy plus any product taxes (less subsidies) not included in the valuation of output. It is calculated without deducting for depreciation of fabricated capital assets or for depletion and degradation of natural resources. GDP is equal to GNI less net receipts of primary income. Value added is the net output of an industry after adding up all outputs and subtracting intermediate inputs. The World Bank does not use this measure for classification of countries into income groups or poverty levels, as it is subject to distortions caused by short-term exchange rate fluctuations, policies and interventions. However, GDP measured in constant, local currency units provides the basis for estimates of overall economic growth.
For more information please see the notes and definitions included in the World Development Indicators 2009.