A clearer perspective on GDP
Thanks to new OECD data, it is now possible to compare real GDP per capita accurately across 52 different countries. The new OECD data on real GDP per capita based on purchasing power parities (PPPs) covers not just OECD countries, but a number of former command economies in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union as well. Comparing GDP levels of different countries using PPPs gives a clearer picture of actual wealth than calculations based on regular currency exchange rates. This is because PPPs adjust for the differences in price levels, and hence in purchasing power, between countries.
The new data reveals some rather wide income gaps. For the OECD as a whole, including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland but excluding Korea (figures not available), real GDP per capita in 1996 averaged nearly US$20 000. However, the average for Slovenia and the Czech Republic was 67% and 64% of the OECD level. On the same scale, per capita GDP in the Balkan region were: Romania 33%, Croatia 32%, Bulgaria 25%, the Former Macedonian Republic of Yugoslavia 21% and Albania 14%. Russia had the highest GDP per head of the former Soviet Union, according to the PPP measure, with 34% of the OECD average, followed by Belarus and Kazakhstan with 26% and 22% respectively. Most of the others were 15% or less. The data will be updated in firstname.lastname@example.org
©OECD Observer No 217-218, Summer 1999