Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the monetary market value of all final goods and services made within a country during a specific period. GDP helps to provide a snapshot of a country’s economy and can be calculated using expenditures, production, or incomes.
The world GDP is the added total of the gross national income for every country in the world. Gross national income takes a country’s GDP, adds the value of income from imports, and subtracts the value of money from exports. The value of gross national income, GNI, differs from that of GDP because it reflects the impact of domestic and international trade.
When the GNIs of every country in the world are added together, the value of imports and exports are in balance. The world economy consists of 193 economies, with the United States being the largest.
As per World Bank estimates, the nominal world GDP in 2017 was $80,683.79 billion. In 2018, the nominal world GDP was $84,835.46 billion in 2018, and it’s projected to be $88,081.13 billion in 2019. In 2018, the growth rate for the world GDP was 3.6%.
Nominal GDP vs. PPP GDP
To compare GDPs around the world, currencies must be converted so that they’re consistent across all countries. There are two main systems of common currency conversion: nominal and PPP. These two approaches to GDP estimation have separate strengths and are generally used for different reasons.
Nominal GDP is useful for large-scope GDP comparison, either for a country or region or on an international scale. The nominal GDP of an area is determined using up-to-date market prices and shifts according to inflation. By incorporating an area’s inflation rate in the GDP calculation, nominal GDP can indicate when prices rise in an economy. The rate of price increases in an economy is also factored into nominal GDP.
The main downfall of nominal GDP is that it doesn’t account for the living standards in a country - it focuses only on economic growth and performance. Also, generally speaking, nominal GDP can differ significantly from year to year depending on variations in the exchange rate.
PPP stands for purchasing power parity. PPP GDP is used to measure both the economic growth and living standards in a country, making it a useful tool in global comparisons. The PPP approach uses exchange rates to convert one country’s currency into the other. Then, using a consistent amount of money, the quantity of goods and services that may be purchased in the countries is compared. For example, PPP may compare the cost of a car in France to the cost of a car in Japan (after using the exchange rate to convert yen to Euros, or vice versa) to analyze the difference in GDP and cost of living between these nations. PPP GDP stays relatively stable from year to year and isn’t significantly impacted by shifts in the exchange rate.
PPP GDP can be faulted for the fact that it doesn’t incorporate discrepancies in quality between goods and services in different countries. In general, it’s less exact than nominal GDP and often hinges on estimates rather than calculations. As such, the nominal GDP is typically used to measure and compare the size of national economies.
Nominal GDP Rankings by Country
What are the largest economies in the world? According to the International Monetary Fund, these are the highest ranking countries in the world in nominal GDP:
- United States (GDP: 20.49 trillion)
- China (GDP: 13.4 trillion)
- Japan: (GDP: 4.97 trillion)
- Germany: (GDP: 4.00 trillion)
- United Kingdom: (GDP: 2.83 trillion)
- France: (GDP: 2.78 trillion)
- India: (GDP: 2.72 trillion)
- Italy: (GDP: 2.07 trillion)
- Brazil: (GDP: 1.87 trillion)
- Canada: (GDP: 1.71 trillion)
The Largest Economies in the World
The three largest economies in the world as measured by nominal GDP are the United States, China, and Japan. Economic growth and prosperity are impacted by a wide array of factors, namely investment in workforce education, production output (as determined by investment in physical capital), natural resources, and entrepreneurship. The economies of the U.S., China, and Japan all have a unique combination of these factors that have led to economic growth over time, as outlined below.
The United States has been the world’s largest economy since 1871. The nominal GDP for the United States is $21.44 trillion. The U.S. GDP (PPP) is also $21.44 trillion. Additionally, the United States is ranked second in the world for the approximate value of natural resources. In 2016, the U.S. had an estimated natural resource value of $45 trillion.
Several factors contribute to the U.S.’s powerful economy. The U.S. is known globally for cultivating a society that supports and encourages entrepreneurship, which encourages innovation and, in turn, leads to economic growth. The growing population in the U.S. has helped diversify the workforce. The U.S. is also one of the leading manufacturing industries in the world, coming only second to China. The U.S. dollar is also the most widely used currency for global transactions.
As the second-largest economy in the world, China has seen an average growth rate of 9.52% between 1989 and 2019. China is the second-largest economy considering nominal GDP, at $14.14 trillion, and the largest using GDP (PPP), which is $27.31 trillion. China has approximately $23 trillion in natural resources, 90% of which are rare earth metals and coal.
China’s economic reform program of 1978 was a large success and resulted in the rise in average economic growth from 6% to over 9%. The reform program emphasized the creation of private and rural businesses, easing the state regulations on prices, and investment in workforce education and industrial output. Another driving force behind the growth of China’s economy is worker efficiency.
Japan has the third-largest economy in the world with a GDP of $5.15 trillion. Japan’s GDP (PPP) is $5.75 trillion. Japan’s economy is market-driven so businesses, production, and prices shift according to consumer demand, not governmental action. While the 2008 financial crisis took a hit on the Japanese economy and has stunted its growth since then, it is expected that the 2020 Olympics will give it a boost.
The Japanese economy’s strength comes from its electronic goods industry, which is the largest in the world, and its automobile industry, which is the third-largest in the world. Going forward, the Japanese economy faces some large challenges such as a declining population and an ever-increasing debt that, as of 2017, is 236% of its GDP.
The German economy is the fourth-largest in the world with a GDP of $4.0 trillion. Germany has a GDP (PPP) of $4.44 trillion and a per capita GDP of $46,560, the 18th –highest in the world. Germany’s highly developed social market economy is Europe’s largest and strongest economy and has one of the most skilled workforces. According to the International Monetary Fund, Germany accounted for 28% of the euro area economy.
Germany’s major industries are car manufacture, machinery, household equipment, and chemicals. Because of its dependency on capital good exports, the economy had a significant setback post-2008 financial crisis. The German economy is currently in the middle of its fourth industrial revolution due to the Internet and the digital age. Industry 4.0 is the term used for this transformation, which embraces solutions, processes, and technologies and describes the use of IT and a high degree of system networking in factories.
India’s economy is the fifth-largest in the world with a GDP of $2.94 trillion, overtaking the UK and France in 2019 to take the fifth spot. India’s GDP (PPP) is $10.51 trillion, exceeding that of Japan and Germany. Due to India’s high population, India’s GDP per capita is $2,170 (for comparison, the U.S. is $62,794). India’s real GDP growth, however, is expected to weaken for the third straight year from 7.5% to 5%.
India is developing into an open-market economy from its previous autarkic policies. India’s economic liberalization began in the early 1990s and included industrial deregulation, reduced control on foreign trade and investment, and privatization of state-owned enterprises. These measures have helped India accelerate economic growth. India’s service sector is the fast-growing sector in the world accounting for 60% of the economy and 28% of employment. Manufacturing and agriculture are two other significant sectors of the economy.
The United Kingdom, which has a $2.83 trillion GDP, is the sixth-largest economy in the world. In terms of GDP purchasing power parity, the UK is in the ninth spot with a GDP (PPP) of The UK is ranked 23rd for GDP per capita which is $42,558. The UK is expected to fall to the seventh-largest economy by 2023 with a GDP of $3.27 trillion. In 2016, the UK was the tenth-largest exporter of goods in the world, exporting goods to 160 countries worldwide. In the 18th century, the United Kingdom was the first country to industrialize.
The service sector dominates the UK economy, contributing about 80% of GDP, particularly the financial services industry. London is the second-largest financial center in the world. Manufacturing and agriculture are the second- and third-largest sectors in the United Kingdom. Britain’s aerospace industry is the second-largest in the world and its pharmaceutical industry is the tenth-largest.
France is the third-largest economy in Europe (behind Germany and the UK) and the seventh-largest economy in the world. France has a nominal GDP of $2.71 trillion. France’s GDP per capita is $42,877.56, the 19th highest in the world, and GDP (PPP) is $2.96 trillion. According to World Bank, France has unfortunately experienced high unemployment rates in recent years: a 10% unemployment rate was recorded for 2014, 2015, and 2016 and it declined to 9.681% in 2017.
France’s economy is a diversified free-market-oriented economy. The chemical industry is a key sector for France, as well as agriculture and tourism. France accounts for about one-third of all agricultural land in the European Union and is the sixth-largest agricultural producer and the second-largest agricultural exporter in the world, behind the United States. France is the most visited destination in the world. Additionally, France ranks 5th in the Fortune Global 500 behind the United States, China, Japan, and Germany with 28 of the 500 biggest companies.
With a nominal GDP of $1.99 trillion, Italy is the eighth-largest economy in the world. In terms of GDP (PPP) Italy’s economy is worth $2.40 trillion and its per capita GDP is $34,260.34. Italy’s economy is expected to expand to $2.26 trillion by 2023. Unfortunately, Italy is experiencing a relatively high unemployment rate of 9.7% and a debt at 132% of GDP.
Fortunately, Italy’s exports are helping to recover the economy. Italy is the eighth-largest exporter in the world, conducting 59% of its trade with other European Union countries. Before World War II, Italy was primarily an agricultural economy and has now transformed into one of the world’s most advanced nations. Italy is the second-largest exporter in the European Union, behind Germany, and has a significant trade surplus from exporting machinery, vehicles, food, clothing, luxury goods, and more.
Brazil has the ninth-largest economy in the world and the largest in Latin America with a nominal GDP of $1.85 trillion. Brazil is also the largest and most populous nation in Latin America. Brazil has the world’s 73rd highest per capita GDP of $8,967 and a GDP (PPP) of $2.40 trillion. The country has an estimated $21.8 trillion in natural resources, which includes vast amounts of timber, uranium, gold, and iron.
Brazil is a developing free-market economy. From 2000 to 2012, Brazil was one of the fastest-growing major economies in the world. Brazil, however, has one of the most unequal economies in the world. In 2017, the economic crisis, corruption, and lack of public policies increased the poverty rate and many became homeless. Six billionaires alone in Brazil are richer than more than 100 million of the poorest Brazilians.
Canada has the tenth-largest economy in the world with a nominal GDP of $1.73 trillion. Canada’s per capita GDP of $46,260.71 is ranked 20th globally while its GDP (PPP) of $1.84 trillion is ranked 17th globally. Canada’s GDP is expected to rise to $2.13 trillion by 2023.
Canada has the fourth-highest estimated value of natural resources of $33.2 trillion. Canada is considered an energy superpower due to its abundant natural resources such as petroleum and natural gas. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Canada is one of the least corrupt countries in the world and one of the world’s top ten trading countries. Canada ranks above the United States on the Index of Economic Freedom and experiences a relatively low level of income disparity.
IMF data from the April 2018 IMF World Economic Outlook database.
UN data from the July 2018 World Development Indicators.
GDP is in trillions of US dollars.