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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain how GDP can be used to compare the economic welfare of different nations
  • Calculate the conversion of GDP to a common currency by using exchange rates
  • Calculate GDP per capita using population data

It is common to use GDP as a measure of economic welfare or standard of living in a nation. When comparing the GDP of different nations for this purpose, two issues immediately arise. First, the GDP of a country is measured in its own currency: the United States uses the U.S. dollar; Canada, the Canadian dollar; most countries of Western Europe, the euro; Japan, the yen; Mexico, the peso; and so on. Thus, comparing GDP between two countries requires converting to a common currency. A second issue is that countries have very different numbers of people. For instance, the United States has a much larger economy than Mexico or Canada, but it also has roughly three times as many people as Mexico and nine times as many people as Canada. So, if we are trying to compare standards of living across countries, we need to divide GDP by population.

Converting currencies with exchange rates

To compare the GDP of countries with different currencies, it is necessary to convert to a “common denominator” using an exchange rate    , which is the value of one currency in terms of another currency. Exchange rates are expressed either as the units of country A’s currency that need to be traded for a single unit of country B’s currency (for example, Japanese yen per British pound), or as the inverse (for example, British pounds per Japanese yen). Two types of exchange rates can be used for this purpose, market exchange rates and purchasing power parity (PPP) equivalent exchange rates. Market exchange rates vary on a day-to-day basis depending on supply and demand in foreign exchange markets. PPP-equivalent exchange rates provide a longer run measure of the exchange rate. For this reason, PPP-equivalent exchange rates are typically used for cross country comparisons of GDP. Exchange rates will be discussed in more detail in Exchange Rates and International Capital Flows . The following Work It Out feature explains how to convert GDP to a common currency.

Converting gdp to a common currency

Using the exchange rate to convert GDP from one currency to another is straightforward. Say that the task is to compare Brazil’s GDP in 2013 of 4.8 trillion reals with the U.S. GDP of $16.6 trillion for the same year.

Step 1. Determine the exchange rate for the specified year. In 2013, the exchange rate was 2.230 reals = $1. (These numbers are realistic, but rounded off to simplify the calculations.)

Step 2. Convert Brazil’s GDP into U.S. dollars:

Brazil's GDP in $ U.S.  =  Brazil's GDP in reals Exchange rate (reals/$ U.S.)  =  4.8 trillion reals 2.230 reals per $ U.S.  =  $2.2 trillion

Step 3. Compare this value to the GDP in the United States in the same year. The U.S. GDP was $16.6 trillion in 2013, which is nearly eight times that of GDP in Brazil in 2012.

Step 4. View [link] which shows the size of and variety of GDPs of different countries in 2013, all expressed in U.S. dollars. Each is calculated using the process explained above.

(Source: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2013/01/weodata/index.aspx)
Comparing gdps across countries, 2013
Country GDP in Billions of Domestic Currency Domestic Currency/U.S. Dollars (PPP Equivalent) GDP (in billions of U.S. dollars)
Brazil 4,844.80 reals 2.157 2,246.00
Canada 1,881.20 dollars 1.030 1,826.80
China 58,667.30 yuan 6.196 9,469.10
Egypt 1,753.30 pounds 6.460 271.40
Germany 2,737.60 euros 0.753 3,636.00
India 113,550.70 rupees 60.502 1,876.80
Japan 478,075.30 yen 97.596 4,898.50
Mexico 16,104.40 pesos 12.772 1,260.90
South Korea 1,428,294.70 won 1,094.925 1,304.467
United Kingdom 1,612.80 pounds 0.639 2,523.20
United States 16,768.10 dollars 1.000 16,768.10

Questions & Answers

objective of macro economic
saroj Reply
give the characteristics of good money?
Chok Reply
suppose that there is a positive aggregate demand shock. what graph most accurately show how this would affect the aggregate demand-aggregate supply model?
Shielyn Reply
ppf and ad/as
jax
PPF , AD/AS
Shubham
Every Work must be done properly based on its Feasibility Studies duly prepared.
Pundato
if there is advance technology in the fishing industry, how will this change in supply and demand
El Reply
yes
Shehazahd
increase Supply, since technology in fishing will increase the efficiency of fishing , higher productivity and thus lower per unit cost of production, which incentive producers to increase their supply. demand wise, not so sure. depends on what exactly is the advancement in tech.
samantha
how many types of natural rate of unemployment
Trina Reply
what is macro economic
muniira Reply
in the year 1933, Ragnar Frisch used the term macro
Ammu
factors that determine the country material standard ?
Serena Reply
population divide by gdp in currency analysis
Aniyikayekenny
what is the important of studying economics
Akurugu Reply
economics teaches you how to think not what think
umer
in order to know how our country operates and corporate with other countries based on the international marketing and to know how our economy is doing regarding incomes going in and out through exchange of goods and services,we have to study more about economics to gain more and better understanding
Betty
important studying economic is make a choice under the condition of scarcity
cafifo
is labour a intermediate good or final good
umer Reply
what is economics
Mahamed Reply
Economic is science, which Studies human behaviour and who they are earn and spend
Ammu
economics is the science which shows how can use scare resources among society
umer
economic is a science which study human behavior as a result relationship between ends at scarce means which have more than one use
Jovert
simply, economics is a science which studies human wants,
Saeed
Economy is knowledge of choice
Omid
how to derive the equation for the equilibrium level of national income in an open economy with no taxes
loise Reply
what is inflation?
Herry Reply
when price goes up with some shottime
umer
Give me 5 example for Macro economics
Neha Reply
1. Markets 2. Market Failure 3. Competition 4. Price Stability 5. Efficiency
Luyando
please can you explain markets and markets failure ?
Timothy
When we talk about Markets as an example of macroeconomics, we look at demand and supply in labor market.
Luyando
Then for market failures, we focus on market inefficiencies and failures such as the destruction of common goods due to economic systems that provide no incentive for their preservation
Luyando
Who is a discourage worker.?
Timothy
a discourage worker is simply a worker who stop looking for a job because he/she believe no job is available for them..
Joseph
sloping curve normal
Mirasol Reply
A normal sloping curve
Mirasol
State what happen to the aggregate supply curve for beef. The price of beef decrease
Mirasol
i think there is positive relationship between price n supply so as the price decreases the supply curve so decreases and vice versa
Dharani
quantity supply will decrease,less.profit for firms in a perfectly competitive market i guess
Joseph
yaa
Dharani
List two REASONS FOR LOW PRODUCTIVITY IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES?
KHONAYE Reply
DESCRIBE WHY MARGINALISED GROUPS ARE NORMALLY AFFECTED FIRST DURING A RECESSION.I'M IN GRADE 11
KHONAYE
A normal sloping curve
Mirasol

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Source:  OpenStax, Macroeconomics. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11626/1.10
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