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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.