Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

  • Gross domestic product or GDP measures the total value of all final goods and services produced in the economy during a given period.
  • The quality of GDP measurements are limited by the resources available to national statistics offices, this is correlated with an economy’s standard of living and other factors such as the degree of political interference.
  • The use of GDP data for international comparisons is limited by a failure to rebase national accounts every five years resulting in underestimates of GDP by 20.9% in Africa, by 5.3% in the Americas and 1.1% in Asia.
  • International GDP comparisons are constrained since most countries use outdated national income standards which fail to measure informal and illicit economic activities estimated at between 8-30% of GDP in rich countries and 25-40% in emerging markets.
  • Other problems including the difficulty of measuring the output of government and the financial sectors means that for all but the richest countries, GDP data should not be trusted.
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Measuring GDP by Continent

African GDP
Missing data, out of date base years, disputed population data and the size of the unrecorded informal economy means that international rankings of countries in terms of GDP and GDP per capita are meaningless.
Asia GDP
The quality of economic data across Asia-Pacific region varies considerably across countries, mainly as a result of lack of statistical capacity.
European GDP
The use of different national income standards across Europe has an impact on cross-country comparability and in some cases leads to an underestimation of GDP. It is estimated that the application of the latest standard would add US$824 billion.
North and South American GDP
Most American countries use a national income accounting standard that fails to record the informal economy. The most unreliable economic data is produced in Argentina which has manipulated inflation and GDP statistics since 2007.

Global GDP Data

Global GDP Database
Download the world’s most comprehensive GDP database. Covering over 130 countries with historical GDP PPP data from 1870-2016.


Data Quality Index
The data quality index is designed to review the accuracy of GDP data worldwide. Most GDP data is flawed to an extent few realise. See just how misleading GDP data can be here


Global Growth Tracker
World Economics research shows that the global economy grew for 52 out of the past 53 years. The World Economy grew at 3.8% per year between 1961-2014.

More GDP Papers

GDP as the champion of measurements
This paper considers the importance of measurement in complex societies and notes that the concept of measuring macroeconomic variables such as GDP...
Tanzania’s GDP grows 31.4 percent after rebasing
Tanzania has become the latest African country to report that the size of its economy is bigger than previously estimated, following a statistical revision...
Measuring Argentina’s GDP Growth
The main purpose of this paper is to report on the results of an exhaustive reworking of Argentina’s output growth by industry realized by the ARKLEMS...
Emerging Market Economic Data Cannot be Trusted
A survey of 187 countries using IMF data found that the average period since the base year was updated was 11 years, but 29% of the non-OECD countries...
France Benefits at the expense of the African Franc Zone
The member countries of the African Financial Community, a currency union with a fixed exchange rate pegged to the euro, grew at a slower rate than...
Poor Economic Statistics Fuel China’s Low Consumption Myth
The generally held belief that China’s consumption is too low is a myth based on inadequate theory, a misreading of official statistics and the use of...
Nigerian GDP to rise by 50 percent on improved measurement
Economic statistics for many African countries are seriously deficient. In Ghana an improvement in evaluating economic activity, mainly in the Service.
The Value of Value Added
As production has become more globally integrated, imported components account for a rising share of the value of exports. Many countries may contribute...
Pastoralism: Africa’s invisible economic powerhouse?
Many elements of developing economies are missing from their national accounts. This is more than a statistical dilemma. It hampers the development of...
EU Accounting - Making Government Accounting look good
Based on the authors’ direct experience of the inner workings of the European Union this article argues that the procedures within this supranational...
Counting the Bottom Billion
What do the statistics from the international databases tell us about income and growth in Sub-Saharan Africa? Less than we would like to think...
Measuring African GDP
There is much speculation about the growth potential of African economies. But in the light of unreliable official statistics and the highly selective.
The Power of Price Indexes
Price indexes are the most important of all economic indicators simply because they are the tool used to calculate the real size, speed and direction.
The Black Economy - Benefit frauds or tax evaders?
One answer to the question "How Rich are We?" is to compare levels of National Income either across countries or for a single country over time...
Clearing the Fog
Official statistical agencies produce a number of data series that are more timely and of higher frequency than the published estimates of GDP growth.
Maddison and Wu: Measuring China’s Economic Performance
Angus Maddison and Harry Wu (2008) claim that, in 2003, China’s GDP was 73% of that of the United States on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis.
Measuring Nations’ Economic Performance
The Report of the Commission on Economic Performance and Social Progress considers the issues of establishing a broader measure of human well-being.
International Comparisons of GDP
The recent publication by the World Bank of PPP-GDP estimates for 2005, referred to 146 countries, seems a good occasion to reopen the long-standing...
Economic Forecasts
Will the US and other economies slip into recessions this year? Which economies will decouple from a global slowdown? The authors suggest that the...
Measuring China’s Economic Performance
China is the world’s fastest growing economy and is also the second largest. However, the official estimates of the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics...
Measures of Progress and Other Tall Stories
How should progress be measured? Today, economists and economic historians have available a rich array of data for a large number of countries on which...
Is Economic Growth Good For Us?
This article reviews Britain’s experience of economic growth in the twentieth century. It argues that average living standards have risen much more...
"There Will Be Growth in the Spring"
Forecasters are currently echoing Chauncey Gardner’s words that “There will be growth in the spring”. Or certainly by the summer. Are such forecasts...
Wealth as a Criterion for Sustainable Development
In this article the authors define sustainable development as an economic programme along which social well-being does not decline over time. It can...
Wanted: Measures of Economic Change
Economic growth may involve change, but there can be change without economic growth insofar as outputs of some products or employment in some regions…...
How Clear is the Crystal Ball?
Two salient features of growth forecasts are discussed. First, recessions generally arrive before the forecast. Slowdowns are predicted but forecasts...
A Multi-coloured GDP -or No New GDP at All?
This is a reply to Giles Atkinson’s article ‘Re-thinking Economic Progress’ that appeared in the first issue of World Economics...
Re-thinking Economic Progress
Most national governments have pledged a commitment to sustainable development. The transformation of these pledges into policy is a formidable challenge...