There are many ways to measure different economies against one another, but comparing countries by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita remains one of the best. GDP per capita attempts to level the playing field by dividing a country’s economic output by its population, effectively giving the average GDP per person. A higher per capita GDP generally corresponds to higher income, consumption levels, and standards of living.
Source: Visual Capitalist, WORLDMAPS, IMF
The above graphic from WORLDMAPS ranks the top 10 countries by per capita GDP in different regions, using data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Here are the Top 10 Countries by GDP per capita in the world in 2023, measured in USD.
Rank Country GDP per Capita
1 Luxembourg $132,370
2 Ireland $114,580
3 Norway $101,100
4 Switzerland $98,770
5 Singapore $91,100
6 Qatar $83,890
7 USA $80,030
8 Iceland $75,180
9 Denmark $68,830
10 Australia $64,960
Luxembourg, Ireland, and Norway lead the ranking with more than USD100,000 in GDP per capita. Luxembourg is a key financial services center in Europe, Ireland is headquarters to many multinational corporations, and Norway is one of the largest energy exporters in the region, explaining their relative prosperity.
Wealthy countries with smaller populations tend to make up the world’s richest ranks. According to the IMF, Luxembourg has only 600,000 people. In the top 10, only the US and Australia have populations of more than 10 million.
One of the major drawbacks of using GDP per capita is that it doesn’t account for the strength of the local currency versus its exchange rate, the latter of which is heavily influenced by investment flows and demand for the national currency. To solve this problem, some models utilise purchasing power parity (PPP) indexes. A key element of these indexes is that they remove these price differences and convert them into a common currency to show relative economic prosperity. Popular examples are The Economist’s Big Mac Index and the Wall Street Journal’s Latte Index.
And there are other caveats.
For one, it is a measurement of economic output per person, not individual income or household savings. That gives it clear limitations in certain cases, such as in Ireland, where the presence of multinational corporations obscures the general output per person.
Secondly, countries with smaller populations do better in the rankings. Most of the world’s biggest economies (China, India, UK, France) do not find themselves in the top 10 ranks.
Thirdly, other metrics for a good standard of living, some of them intangible in economic terms—human rights, freedom of expression, safety and security, and a clean environment —are not accounted for at all.
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