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GDP Per Capita vs. Income Per Capita: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on February 7, 2024
GDP per capita measures a country's economic output per person, while income per capita represents the average income earned per person.

Key Differences

GDP per capita is the total Gross Domestic Product of a country divided by its population, indicating the economic productivity per person. Income per capita, however, represents the average income earned by each person in a country. Both metrics provide insight into a country's economic status, but GDP per capita focuses on overall economic output, while income per capita is about earnings.
GDP per capita includes all private and public consumption, investments, government spending, and exports minus imports. In contrast, income per capita is typically derived from the sum of all personal incomes divided by the population. GDP per capita reflects the economic health of a nation, whereas income per capita gives a sense of individual economic well-being.
GDP per capita can be high in a country with significant industrial or technological activity, regardless of individual wealth distribution. On the other hand, income per capita might be lower if wealth is unevenly distributed, despite a high GDP per capita. GDP per capita is a measure of national economic activity, while income per capita is more indicative of living standards.
GDP per capita is useful for comparing economic productivity and living standards across countries. Income per capita, however, provides a clearer picture of the average person's financial situation in a specific region. While both are important economic indicators, GDP per capita is broader, encompassing all economic activity, whereas income per capita is more focused on individual income levels.
GDP per capita does not account for income inequality, which means it might overstate the standard of living. Income per capita gives a more direct assessment of the average citizen's economic situation, but it still does not address wealth distribution within a society. Both GDP and income per capita are essential for understanding a country's economy, but they offer different perspectives on economic prosperity and individual financial health.

Comparison Chart


Economic output per person
Average income earned per person


Includes consumption, investments, government spending, exports-imports
Sum of personal incomes

Economic Indication

Overall economic productivity
Individual economic well-being

Wealth Distribution

Does not account for income inequality
More closely reflects individual incomes but doesn't address inequality

Use in Economic Analysis

Comparing productivity and living standards across countries
Understanding individual financial situations

GDP Per Capita and Income Per Capita Definitions

GDP Per Capita

GDP per capita encompasses the value of all goods and services produced.
The country's GDP per capita grew due to increased industrial output.

Income Per Capita

Income per capita is the average amount of income earned per person in a region.
The region's income per capita has steadily increased over the past decade.

GDP Per Capita

GDP per capita can indicate the standard of living in a country.
A rising GDP per capita often suggests improving living conditions.

Income Per Capita

Income per capita gives insights into the average financial health of a population.
The income per capita is a key indicator of consumer spending potential.

GDP Per Capita

GDP per capita is the total economic output of a country divided by its population.
Country X's high GDP per capita indicates its strong economy.

Income Per Capita

Income per capita can be a measure of economic inequality.
A low income per capita in a wealthy country may indicate inequality.

GDP Per Capita

GDP per capita is used to compare the economic performance of different countries.
Economists use GDP per capita to assess the economic health of countries.

Income Per Capita

Income per capita reflects the average economic well-being of individuals.
Despite a high national wealth, the income per capita remains low.

GDP Per Capita

GDP per capita measures the average economic productivity of each person.
Despite its small size, the nation has a remarkably high GDP per capita.

Income Per Capita

Income per capita is calculated by dividing the total personal incomes by the population.
Economic policies aim to boost the income per capita of the citizens.


Can GDP per capita reflect individual wealth?

Not necessarily, as it doesn't account for wealth distribution.

How is GDP per capita calculated?

It's calculated by dividing a country's GDP by its population.

What does income per capita represent?

Income per capita represents the average income earned by each person in a country.

What does a high income per capita indicate?

A high income per capita indicates higher average individual earnings.

Can income per capita vary widely within a country?

Yes, different regions in a country can have varying income per capita.

What is GDP per capita?

GDP per capita measures a country's total economic output per person.

Is income per capita a good indicator of living standards?

Yes, it can provide insights into the average person's living standards.

What factors affect GDP per capita?

Factors include economic activity, population size, and technological advancement.

Does GDP per capita include international trade?

Yes, it includes the value of exports minus imports.

Does income per capita consider non-monetary income?

It primarily focuses on monetary income but can include in-kind earnings.

How does income inequality impact income per capita?

High income inequality can skew the average, masking poverty.

What role does government spending play in GDP per capita?

Government spending is a component of GDP per capita, influencing its value.

Why might income per capita be low in a country with high GDP per capita?

This can happen due to unequal wealth distribution.

How often is GDP per capita updated?

It's typically updated annually, reflecting the most recent economic data.

What's the difference between GDP and GDP per capita?

GDP is the total economic output, while GDP per capita is the output per person.

How reliable is income per capita as an economic indicator?

It's a useful indicator but doesn't capture wealth distribution complexities.

Can GDP per capita be used to compare countries?

Yes, it's a common metric for comparing economic productivity between countries.

Can GDP per capita growth indicate economic development?

Yes, it often signifies economic growth and development.

Does a rising GDP per capita always improve living standards?

Not always, as it doesn't account for factors like income inequality.

Can economic policies target income per capita growth?

Yes, policies aimed at economic growth can increase income per capita.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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