GDP: Abbreviations are extensively used in many professions. The initials MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles), and ERA (earned run average) are self-explanatory to physicians, accountants, and baseball players, respectively. To someone unfamiliar with these subjects, however, these initialisms represent a barrier to gaining a deeper knowledge of the issue at hand.


Economics is no exception. Several acronyms are used by economists. GDP, which stands for (full form)gross domestic product, is one of the most prevalent. It is often quoted in newspapers, on television news, and in government, central bank, and corporate publications. It is now frequently utilized as a barometer of the health of national and global economies. Workers and companies are typically better off when GDP is expanding, particularly if inflation is not a concern.

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GDP measurement

GDP estimates the monetary worth of final products and services (those purchased by the ultimate user) generated in a nation over a certain time period (say a quarter or a year). It includes all of the products produced inside a country’s boundaries. GDP is made up of commodities and services generated for market sale as well as certain nonmarket output, such as government-provided military or education services. A different notion, gross national product, or GNP, accounts for all of a country’s production. 

GDP may not encompass all productive activities. Unpaid labor (such as that done at home or by volunteers) and black-market activities, for example, are not included since they are difficult to assess and value effectively. 

Moreover, “gross” domestic product does not account for “wear and tear” on the equipment, buildings, and other assets needed to produce the production (the so-called capital stock). When we deduct the depreciation of the capital assets from GDP, we obtain the net domestic product.

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GDP may theoretically be evaluated in three ways

1. The production method adds up the “value-added” at each step of production, where value-added is defined as total sales less the value of intermediate inputs into the manufacturing process. Flour, for example, is an intermediate input, and bread is the ultimate output; similarly, an architect’s services are an intermediate input, and the building is the end result.

2. The spending method sums up the value of purchases made by final users, such as home consumption of food, TVs, and medical services; corporate investments in machinery; and government and foreign purchases of goods and services.

3. The income method totals the revenues earned by output, such as employee remuneration and company operating surplus (roughly sales fewer costs).

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GDP in real terms

People want to know if an economy’s overall production of goods and services is increasing or decreasing. However, comparing two eras based on GDP, which is calculated using current or nominal values, requires adjusting for inflation to ensure accuracy. To convert GDP from nominal to constant prices, a statistical technique known as the price deflator is utilized.

The rate of increase in real GDP is often used as an indication of the overall health of the economy. A rise in real GDP is viewed broadly as an indication that the economy is performing well. As real GDP grows rapidly, employment is expected to rise as businesses hire more employees for their factories and citizens have more money in their wallets. When GDP falls, as it happened in many nations during the recent global economic crisis, employment often falls. In certain circumstances, GDP may be increasing, but not quickly enough to produce a sufficient number of employment for individuals who are looking for them. 

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Comparing the two nations’ GDPs

GDP is calculated in the currency of the nation under consideration. When attempting to compare the value of production in two nations using different currencies, this needs modification. The standard way is to convert each country’s GDP into US dollars and then compare them. Conversion to dollars may be done using either market exchange rates (those used in the foreign currency market) or purchasing power parity (PPP) exchange rates.

The PPP exchange rate is the rate at which one country’s currency must be changed into another’s currency in order to buy the same quantity of goods and services in both countries. In emerging and developing markets, there is a significant difference between market and PPP-based exchange rates. Most emerging markets and developing nations have a market-to-PPP US dollar exchange rate ratio of 2 to 4. This is because nontraded products and services are less costly in low-income nations than in high-income ones.

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What GDP does not show

It’s also critical to grasp what GDP can’t tell us. GDP is not a measure of a country’s total level of life or well-being. Changes in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita are frequently employed to assess whether the average individual in a country is experiencing an improvement or decline in their economic situation, they do not account for factors that may be judged significant to general well-being. Increased productivity, for example, may come at the expense of environmental harm or other external expenses such as noise. It might also include a loss in leisure time or the depletion of nonrenewable natural resources.

The distribution of GDP among a country’s population, rather than merely the aggregate quantity, may influence the quality of life. To account for such issues, the UN creates a Human Development Index, which scores nations not just on GDP per capita, but also on life expectancy, literacy, and school attendance. Other initiatives, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator and the Gross National Happiness Index, have been undertaken to account for some of GDP’s flaws, although they, too, have detractors.

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