Economic development indicators

To assess the economic development of a country, geographers use economic indicators including:

  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total value of goods and services produced by a country in a year.
  • Gross National Product (GNP) measures the total economic output of a country, including earnings from foreign investments.
  • GNP per capita is a country's GNP divided by its population. (Per capita means per person.)
  • Economic growth measures the annual increase in GDP, GNP, GDP per capita, or GNP per capita.
  • Inequality of wealth is the gap in income between a country's richest and poorest people. It can be measured in many ways, (eg the proportion of a country's wealth owned by the richest 10 per cent of the population, compared with the proportion owned by the remaining 90 per cent).
  • Inflation measures how much the prices of goods, services and wages increase each year. High inflation (above a few percent) can be a bad thing, and suggests a government lacks control over the economy.
  • Unemployment is the number of people who cannot find work.
  • Economic structure shows the division of a country's economy between primary, secondary and tertiary industries.
  • Demographics study population growth and structure. It compares birth rates to death rates, life expectancy and urban and rural ratios. Many LEDCs have a younger, faster-growing population than MEDCs, with more people living in the countryside than in towns. The birth rate in the UK is 11 per 1,000, whereas in Kenya it is 40.