GDP at PPP compared to GDP in $US

A look at how GDP per capita in $US gives different values when measured at purchasing power parity.


GDP at Purchasing Power parity (PPP) takes into account variations in living costs.

PPP is an attempt to work out how much currency will be needed to buy the same quantity of goods and services in different countries. If this can be done, it can show the underlying exchange rate between the two different countries and a more accurate reflection of actual living standards in countries.

Often exchange rates don’t actually reflect different living costs because some goods are not easily traded. For example, if you live in Norway, it is irrelevant if there is cheaper accommodation elsewhere in the world. What is important is how far your income goes in buying goods and services.

Norway v India

For example, GDP per capita in Norway is $98,102. However, in Norway the cost of living is much higher (higher VAT, higher wages, higher rents). Therefore, even if you have a salary of $98,102 – it doesn’t go as far as elsewhere in the world..

By comparison, in India, GDP per capita is $1,489 per year. However, in India, living costs are much lower and so that income goes much further. If we adjust for the relative cost of living in the different countries, the gap between India and Norway is much reduced.

  • Using GDP per Capita in $US, Norway’s national income is 65 times higher than India.
  • Using GDP per Capita adjusted for PPP, Norway’s national income is only 17 times higher than India.

So we get quite a different outlook.

GDP per capita in PPP is the most useful for comparing living standards. If your income increased £400 a month, but at the same time your rent increased by £400 – would you feel any better off? No.

Afghanistan 1,202 576
India 3,652 1,489
China 8,466 5,445
Russia 21,248 13,089
Greece 26,948 26,427
Korea 30,254 22,424
Spain 32,424 32244
Italy 32,928 36116
Japan 34,294 45903
France 34,993 42377
UK 35,494 38818
Germany 39,211 43689
Australia 39,438 60,642
Canada 40,440 50,345
Ireland 41,543 48423
US 48,442 48442
Singapore 61,103 46,241
Norway 61,882 98,102

Purchasing Power Parity for exchange rates
GDP per Capita $US at World bank
GDP per capita at PPP at World Bank

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