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World Economics GDP Database

Updated: March 30, 2022

The World Economics GDP database provides a radically different view of economic activity in 145+ countries, of considerable relevance and utility to investors of all kinds, and to Governments wanting to lower borrowing costs.

There are three good reasons for believing that classic GDP data seriously underestimates GDP.

First, many Government statistics offices produce seriously out of date numbers, using Base Years (the year upon which economic data is based - read more) that are so many years out of date they cannot accurately reflect economic activity. The massive increase in the size of the digital economy - for example - cannot be reflected in data based on a pattern of sector activity over 10 years old. World Economics has developed a method for uplifting economic data for years-out-of-date Base Years, based on past experience.

Second, most economic data fail to include data covering Shadow or Informal sector activity, ranging from untaxed and unmonitored legal activities through to black markets, "off the books" cash transactions, and criminal activities including prohibited drugs. Estimates now exist for most countries which are included in the new data series.

Third, many GDP country comparisons are made using market exchange rates, which fail to capture the true purchasing power of individual currencies. The new World Economics data is based on recent World Bank survey data allowing the calculation of Purchasing Power Parities, which although necessarily imperfect, being survey based, can be said with some certainty to reflect more truly economic activity levels than the same data based on ever fluctuating market rates.

The differences between the World Economics data, and traditional GDP data that fails to account for the three factors described above, is very large.


Large Variations in 2019 GDP Depending on Measures Used

Rank Country World Economics GDP PPP at Current Prices Estimate
(Int$ trillion)
World Bank GDP at Current Market Prices
(US$ trillion)
World Bank GDP PPP at Current Prices
(Int$ trillion)
1EU (Excl. UK)31.56012.79718.070
2China28.04714.28023.488
3United States22.87021.43321.433
4India15.8752.8699.560
Click table headers to sort data

Source: World Economics and World Bank Development Indicators

Notes
  • World Economics data includes added estimates for outdated base years and omitted informal economy data. Read more...
  • Read more about Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) data.






Database Sources and Coverage

The database which covers 130+ countries adjusts World Bank estimates of GDP upwards to account for out-of-date base years and the size of the informal economy. This substantially improves the accuracy and usefulness of each country’s GDP data. The adjustments are made to the World Banks data for 2020 at PPP rates based on the 2017 survey and IMF estimates for 2021 GDP growth. PPP rates are superior to using current market price exchange rates to make international comparisons since the volatility of the latter causes distortions that downgrade the size of many economies such as India and China. This latter database is extremely useful and the uplifted data can be used to reassess important ratios that employ GDP in the denominator such as the weight of sovereign debt, the public sector deficit, the taxation yield and the current account trade balance.



Methodology

In the World Economics GDP database World Bank country GDP data for 2020 (with IMF growth estimates for 2021 applied) at international PPP rates based on 2017 prices are adjusted to better reflect economic realities. Two factors are considered and are averaged: the problem of out-of-date base years and the size of the informal economy in each country.

Research by World Economics shows that out of a sample of 154 countries, 78 had a base year more than 5 years out of date with one extreme case of a base year 35 years out of date. Out of date base years distort GDP measurements by under or over representing the contribution of sectors of activity.

For example, a base year more than 10 years out of date will seriously underrepresent all the changes in consumer purchasing habits relating to the vast development of digital services of all kinds. Another example illustrates the massive differences base year updates can make to GDP estimates. When the National Bureau of Statistics in Nigeria updated the base year from 1990 to 2010 its GDP estimates rose upwards by 89 per cent overnight.

Adjusting GDP for those countries with out-of-date base years by considering what would happen if the base year was recent raise individual GDP levels very substantially. World Economics uses a model developed over the last 10 years using data from 28 incidences of the impact of base year changes on estimated national income to revalue GDP to what it would be if a country’s base year survey of the structure of the economy were kept up to date.

In many economies, particularly in emerging markets, GDP is also in reality appreciably larger than recorded in official statistics because of lack of capacity or difficulty to measure informal or shadow economic activities by national statistics organisations. World Economics uses estimates of the size of the informal economy across countries economies made by the World Economics Quarterly Informal Econony Survey. Latest data shows that if informal activities were fully accounted for by a country’s national statistics office in official figures they could raise recorded GDP by between 64.1 per cent in Zimbabwe and 7.3 per cent in the United States with a median for 150 countries of 30.1 per cent. So there is no doubt of the importance of adding in estimates of shadow activity in order to measure GDP more accurately.

The World Economics GDP database includes base year estimates and estimates of informal economic activity. For example, Indian GDP for 2020 was estimated by World Bank data at $7.443 trillion (GDP PPP Constant Prices) is uplifted in the World Economics database by no less than 65.9%, derived from a base year related uplift of 13.5% and shadow economy uplift of 52.4%, to reach $15,372 trillion in 2021. This database revolutionises cross country GDP comparisons by making GDP data more realistic.