steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

How Gross is my Domestic Product?

Politicans and journalists enjoy comparing the size of the world's economies. Will the USA be overtaken by China? Is the UK sliding down the charts, or has inward investment provided some much-needed financial Viagra? And so on. You get the idea.

In these kinds of comparisons the different sizes of the populations involved are seldom mentioned, though surely it would be surprising if an industrialized country of 316 million people didn't have a bigger economy than one with 127 million, or if one of 80 million didn't have a bigger economy than one of 64 million: viz., the USA, Japan, Germany and the UK respectively. From that point of view it's interesting to look at the league tables showing GDP per capita.

Once you strip out the tax havens, oil states and microstates, you find that the northeren European countries dominate the top of the list, with Australia making a good showing and the US and Canada a little way behind. The UK is somewhere in the mid-twenties, depending which measure you use.

What strikes me most about these lists, though, is the position of Ireland, which is consistently shown as several places above Germany in terms of GDP per capita. Isn't that a little strange, considering the straits it's found itself in in recent years, and Germany's relative economic success? Is this a sign that Ireland is increasingly dependent on being a tax haven for multinational companies (like Luxembourg, which sits even higher in the table)? Or is there some factor I'm missing?
Tags: maunderings
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