World Markets

World's 5 Richest Nations By GDP Per Capita

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The top ten economies currently contribute 68% of the global gross domestic product (GDP). While an analysis of the GDP per capita, which takes into consideration the nation’s population, results in a total shuffle in rankings with majority of the trillion-dollar economies sliding down on the list. While economic measures such as GDP or GDP per capita do not directly depict quality of life or the wellness of the people, they are an important measure to gauge broader trends, and apply in deeper analysis when making investing decisions.

Here’s a list of the five richest nations based on the GDP per capita.

1. Luxembourg
GDP per capita: $131,781.72
GDP: $84.07 billion

Luxembourg is a small landlocked country surrounded by Germany, France and Belgium. Today, Luxembourg ranks amongst the most important financial centers in the world, although till the early 20th century, its economic fate was intrinsically linked to the steel industry. Luxembourg began with major efforts to diversify its economy away from steel from the late 1950s. These efforts showed results; the sum of added values in the tertiary sector went up to 77% in 1995 from 38% in 1958. In the present day, around 88% of Luxembourg's wealth comes from the service sector, including almost a third in financial services. In terms of imports and exports, intra-European Union (EU) trade accounts for 84% of Luxembourg’s exports while 88% imports come from EU Member States. Luxembourg is currently the 66th largest economy in the world.

2. Switzerland
GDP per capita: $94,696.13
GDP: $824.74 billion

Switzerland has the second highest GDP per capita and the 18th largest economy in the world. Services is the dominant sector in the Swiss economy with close to 74% share. Its industry contributes roughly 25% with less than 1% coming from the agricultural sector. The EU is Switzerland's main trading partner; around 78% of Swiss imports are from the EU, while 43% of Swiss exports are destined for EU countries. The country enjoys a unique position within the luxury segment of the watch industry. Switzerland is one of the highest spenders on research and development in the world. Switzerland invests around 3% of its GDP in research and development (R&D) annually. The economy is expected to grow by 3.5% in 2021 and is projected to register a per capita income of more than $100,000 by 2023.

3. Ireland
GDP per capita: $94,555.79
GDP: $476.66 billion

Close behind Switzerland is Ireland, which is a small and highly globalized economy. Ireland is currently the 29th largest economy in terms of nominal GDP. Ireland's economic freedom score is 81.4, making its economy the 5th freest in the 2021 Index. The features of its tax regime such as 12.5% corporate tax, 25% R&D tax credit, tax treaties with 72 nations, among others make Ireland a preferred investment location. “Ireland is well known for hosting some of the biggest technology companies and the value added in ICT is critically important for the Irish economic performance,” according to an ESRI report. The country is also positioning itself to become a world leader in emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, ICT skills, health innovation, energy efficiency and cloud computing.

4. Norway
GDP per capita: $81,995.39
GDP: $444.52 billion

Norway is located in northern Europe and shares borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia on the eastern side. The country has an extensive coastline towards its west. It is currently the 31st largest economy in terms of nominal GDP and is counted among important suppliers of oil and gas to the global market. Norway is the third largest exporter of natural gas in the world, behind Russia and Qatar. Approximately 20-25% of EU gas demand is supplied alone by Norway. The combination of natural resources, skilled labor and adoption of technology have worked for Norway to achieve prosperity for the country. Norway has been among the three top countries for several years on the Human Development Index (HDI) and topped the HDI ranking in 2020. IMF projects the economy to grow by 3.9% in 2021.

5. United States
GDP per capita: $68,308.97
GDP: $22.67 trillion

The U.S., the largest economy in the world, ranks fifth in terms of GDP per capita. The U.S. economy contributes 24.25% to the global GDP. It is said to be one of the best examples of a ‘mixed economy’ where private sector and the government both play equally important roles. Consumer spending is a crucial component of the U.S. economy and a popular way to gauge the economy's strength as it accounts for roughly two-thirds of the GDP. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), “consumer spending, or personal consumption expenditures (PCE), is the value of the goods and services purchased by, or on the behalf of, U.S. residents.” In addition to consumer spending, manufacturing is a very vital part of its economy. The nation’s manufacturing accounts for around 11.5% of the total output, 60% of its exports and 70% of its R&D spending and employs 8.5% of the workforce.

Denmark, Iceland, Singapore, Australia and Qatar round up the top ten nations. Macao SAR is projected to make it to fourth place in 2022 with a per capita income of $82,252.93. The difference between the GDP per capita income of the richest and the poorest nation is 497 times based on 2021 data. If we take a leap forward, and analyze the figures for 2026, the gap is only expected to widen by 513 times.

The rankings are based on the GDP per capita, current prices (U.S. dollars per capita) based on the IMF data (April 2021). GDP or nominal GDP are used interchangeably and represents the GDP, current prices (U.S. dollars). The author has no position in any stocks mentioned. Investors should consider the above information not as a de facto recommendation, but as an idea for further consideration. The report has been carefully prepared, and any exclusions or errors in it are totally unintentional.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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Prableen Bajpai

Prableen Bajpai is the founder of FinFix Research and Analytics which is an all women financial research and wealth management firm. She holds a bachelor (honours) and master’s degree in economics with a major in econometrics and macroeconomics. Prableen is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA, ICFAI) and a CFP®.

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