Gross domestic product

Map 1. Gross domestic product per capita, 2020
(United States dollars)

Trends in global economy

Global real GDP contracted by 3.6 per cent in 2020, and by 4.6 per cent measured per capita. Brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, this annual decrease was three times bigger than that of 2009 following the global financial crisis. As the world economy recovers, GDP is forecast to expand by 5.3 per cent in 2021.

Large differences in GDP per capita persist throughout the world. In 2020, the median was represented by Belarus and Peru with just over US$6 000 in current prices. Most developed economies produced an output per person greater than US$30 000, with economies in Eastern Europe as the main exception. By contrast, 27 economies recorded a per capita output of less than US$1 000. Four out of ten economies in Africa were in this category together with Afghanistan, Haiti, Nepal, Tajikistan and Yemen.

Figure 1. World real gross domestic product, annual growth rate
(Percentage)

Note: In constant 2015 United States dollars. The dotted line indicates the UNCTAD forecast for the year 2021 -—
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Regional trends

Figure 2. Growth of real gross domestic product by group of economies, 2020
(Percentage)

In 2020, GDP decreased more in developed than in developing economies. Only developing economies in America saw a more severe contraction than developed economies. As a result of continued economic growth in China, the contraction recorded for the developing economies in Asia and Oceania was only half a per cent. Excluding China, the growth rate of GDP was very similar for developing and developed economies.

The target of at least 7 per cent annual growth for LDCs set by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development drifted further away (United Nations, 2017). GDP in LDCs did not grow in 2020 and declined in per capita terms.

Global economic inequality

Over the last 10 years, the global distribution of nominal GDP between economies has trended towards more equality. For example, in 2010, the poorest economies, accounting for 85 per cent of the world’s population, contributed 34 per cent to world GDP. By 2020, their share in GDP was 38 per cent, even if the change from 2015 to 2020 was small. Still, half of the global population lived in an economy where GDP per capita was below US$4 000 in nominal terms in 2020. The figure is twenty times higher in Luxembourg, Bermuda, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Cayman Islands and Ireland.
Figure 3. Distribution of world gross domestic product
(Percentage)

Note: Lorenz curves, as in this graph, reveal the structure of inequality. Inequality is greater the further the curve runs below the diagonal line (see Calculation methods page). Inequality within economies is not considered.

Concepts and definitions

GDP is an aggregate measure of production, income and expenditure of an economy. As a production measure, it represents the gross value added, i.e., the output net of intermediate consumption, achieved by all resident units engaged in production, plus any taxes less subsidies on products not included in the value of output. As an income measure, it represents the sum of primary incomes (gross wages and entrepreneurial income) distributed by resident producers, plus taxes less subsidies on production and imports. As an expenditure measure, it depicts the sum of expenditure on final consumption, gross capital formation (i.e., investment, changes in inventories, and acquisitions less disposals of valuables) and exports after deduction of imports -—
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The GDP figures presented in this section are usually calculated from the expenditure side.

Summary tables

Table 1. Gross domestic product and gross domestic product per capita
    Table 2. Nominal gross domestic product by type of expenditure, 2019
    (Percentage)
      Table 3. Nominal gross value added by economic activity
      (Percentage)
        Table 4. Economies with highest gross domestic product per capita
        Note: Economies are ranked by the nominal value in 2020.

          References

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