Economy & Politics

Economy and politics are two topics that are strongly interconnected. The decisions made by political bodies have an influence on the economy of a nation, and how well the economy is doing is usually seen as a direct reflection of political policies and the success of the government in power. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is seen as an indicator as to how strong a nation is, employment figures indicate the health of an economy, and national elections can influence the growth of a country for years to come. The Economy and Politics industry covers all manner of topics, such as unemployment, GDP, government finances and employment, and policy.

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  • The 20 countries with the largest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in 2023 (in U.S. dollars)
    Apr 22, 2024

    The statistic shows the 20 countries with the largest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in 2023. In 2023, Belgium ranked 19th with an estimated GDP of about 49,843.16 U.S. dollars per capita. 

    GDP per capita

    Gross domestic product (GDP) is a strong indicator of a country’s economic performance and strength. It is measured by the added value of all final goods and services produced in a country during a specific time period or by adding every person’s income during that time period. Gross domestic product per capita is sometimes used to describe the standard of living of a population, with a higher GDP meaning a higher standard of living.

    In 2014, Luxembourg, Norway, Qatar, and Switzerland reported the highest gross domestic product per capita worldwide, as can be seen in this statistic. It is estimated that gross domestic product per capita in the United States in 2020 will amount to around 58 thousand U.S. dollars, half of what Luxembourg is currently reporting. Since GDP per capita is calculated per inhabitant (hence the name), this is actually a positive sign of economic development, since it means an increase of almost 4,000 U.S. dollars. Despite the large gross domestic product in the United States, the United States had one of the highest unemployment rates amongst major industrial and emerging countries in 2013, with over 7.3 percent - the fourth highest in comparison to other major industrial and emerging countries.

    The nation in the world with the second largest gross domestic product per capita is Norway. Norway’s economy has shown great signs of strength over the last few years. Over the past decade, Norway’s GDP per capita increased by more than 43 thousand U.S. dollars alone, almost doubling its amount. All in all, Norway's economy is one of the most stable and promising worldwide.

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  • Unemployment rate of G20 countries in 2024
    Apr 15, 2024

    As of April 2024, South Africa had the highest unemployment rate among the 19* countries that are members of the G20. The unemployment rate in South Africa stood at 33.5 percent that year. The country has recently been plagued by an economic downturn, including energy shortage and high unemployment levels. On the other hand, Japan had the lowest unemployment rate at just 2.5 percent.

    Economic inequality in South Africa

    Not only does South Africa top the G20 in overall unemployment, but it also has a significant level of youth unemployment, as nearly half of the young population is unemployed. Thirty years after the end of Apartheid, South Africa is also still one of the most unequal countries in the world, with a Gini score of 0.63. The prominence of inequality in the country makes escaping unemployment and underemployment difficult.

    Japanese economic slowdown

    While Japan had the lowest unemployment rate out of all G20 nations, as well as the lowest youth unemployment rate out of the G20 nations, Japan’s economy is still facing many challenges. With an aging population, the total Japanese population is facing a rapid decline, meaning that it will struggle to have enough workers participating in the labor market. Despite this, Japan maintains strict immigration policies, limiting the chances for foreign workers to move to Japan. Moreover, Japan has the lowest fertility rate out of the G7 nations and one of the lowest fertility rates globally, adding another challenge in addressing population shrinkage.  

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  • Global price of a Big Mac as of January 2024, by country (in U.S. dollars)
    Jan 25, 2024

    At 8.17 U.S. dollars, Switzerland has the most expensive Big Macs in the world, according to the January 2024 Big Mac index. Concurrently the cost of a Big Mac was 5.69 dollars in the U.S., and 5.87 U.S. dollars in the Euro area.

    What is the Big Mac index?

    The Big Mac index, published by The Economist, is a novel way of measuring whether the market exchange rates for different countries’ currencies are overvalued or undervalued. It does this by measuring each currency against a common standard – the Big Mac hamburger sold by McDonald’s restaurants all over the world. Twice a year the Economist converts the average national price of a Big Mac into U.S. dollars using the exchange rate at that point in time. As a Big Mac is a completely standardized product across the world, the argument goes that it should have the same relative cost in every country. Differences in the cost of a Big Mac expressed as U.S. dollars therefore reflect differences in the purchasing power of each currency.

    Is the Big Mac index a good measure of purchasing power parity?

    Purchasing power parity (PPP) is the idea that items should cost the same in different countries, based on the exchange rate at that time. This relationship does not hold in practice. Factors like tax rates, wage regulations, whether components need to be imported, and the level of market competition all contribute to price variations between countries. The Big Mac index does measure this basic point – that one U.S. dollar can buy more in some countries than others. There are more accurate ways to measure differences in PPP though, which convert a larger range of products into their dollar price. Adjusting for PPP can have a massive effect on how we understand a country’s economy. The country with the largest GDP adjusted for PPP is China, but when looking at the unadjusted GDP of different countries, the U.S. has the largest economy.

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  • Countries with the highest military spending worldwide in 2023 (in billion U.S. dollars)
    Apr 22, 2024

    The United States led the ranking of the countries with the highest military spending in 2023, with 916 billion U.S. dollars dedicated to the military. That constituted over 40 percent of the total military spending worldwide that year, which amounted to 2.4 trillion U.S. dollars. This amounted to 3.5 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), placing the U.S. lower in the ranking of military expenditure as a percentage of GDP than for instance Saudi Arabia, Israel, Algeria, and Russia. China was the second largest military spender with an estimated 296 billion U.S. dollars spent, with Russia following in third. 

    Defense budget

    According to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, the outlays for defense will rise to 1.1 trillion U.S. dollars by 2033. The largest parts of the budget are dedicated to the Departments of the Navy and the Air Force. The budget for the U.S. Air Force for 2024 was nearly 260 billion U.S. dollars.

    Global military spending

    The value of military spending globally has grown steadily in the past years and reached 2.44 trillion U.S. dollars in 2023. Reasons for this are the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war in 2022, the war in Gaza, as well as increasing tensions in the South China Sea. North America is by far the leading region worldwide in terms of expenditure on the military.

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  • Public debt of the United States from June 2013 to June 2024 (in billion U.S. dollars)
    Jun 30, 2024

    In June 2024, the public debt of the United States was around 34.83 trillion U.S. dollars, a slight increase from the previous month. The U.S. public debt ceiling has become one of the most prominent political issues in the States in recent years, with debate over how to handle it causing political turmoil between Democrats and Republicans.

    The public debt The public debt of the United States has risen quickly since 2000, and in 2022 was more than five times higher than in 2000. The public debt is the total outstanding debt that is owed by the federal government. This figure is comprised of debt owed to the public (for example, through bonds) and intragovernmental debt (debt owed to various governmental departments), such as Social Security.

    Debt in Politics The debt issue has become a highly contentious topic within the U.S. government. Measures such as stimulus packages, social programs and tax cuts add to the public debt. Additionally, spending tends to peak during large global events, such as the Great Depression, the 2008 financial crisis, or the COVID-19 pandemic - all of which had a detrimental impact on the U.S. economy. Although both major political parties in the U.S. tend to blame one another for increases in the country's debt, a recent analysis found that both parties have contributed almost equally to national expenditure.

    Debate on raising the debt ceiling, or the amount of debt the federal government is allowed to have at any one time, was a leading topic in the government shutdown in October 2013. Despite plans from both Democrats and Republicans on how to lower the national debt, it is only expected to increase over the next decade.

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  • Number of active military personnel in NATO countries in 2024
    Apr 10, 2024

    In 2024, the United States had the largest number of active military personnel out of all North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries, with almost 1.33 million troops. The country with the second-largest number of military personnel was Türkiye, at around 355,200 active personnel. Additionally, the U.S. has by far the most armored vehicles in NATO, as well as the largest Navy and Air Force

    NATO in brief

    NATO, which was formed in 1949, is the most powerful military alliance in the world. At its formation, NATO had 12 member countries, which by 2024 had increased to 32. NATO was originally formed to deter Soviet expansion into Europe, with member countries expected to come to each other’s defense in case of an attack. Member countries are also obliged to commit to spending two percent of their respective GDPs on defense, although many states have recently fallen far short of this target. 

    NATO in the contemporary world

    Some questioned the purposed of NATO after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union a few years later. In 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron even called the organization 'brain dead' amid dissatisfaction with the leadership of the U.S. President at the time, Donald Trump. NATO has, however, seen a revival after Russia's President Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine in February 2022. Following the invasion, Sweden and Finland both abandoned decades of military neutrality and applied to join the alliance, with Finland joining in 2023, and Sweden in 2024.

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  • The 20 countries with the most billionaires in 2024
    Mar 26, 2024

    According to the Hurun Global Rich List 2024, China housed the highest number of billionaires worldwide in 2024. In detail, there were 814 billionaires living in China as of January that year. By comparison, 800 billionaires resided in the United States. India, the United Kingdom, and Germany were also the homes of a significant number of billionaires that year. 

    United States lost its first place

    As the founder and exporter of consumer capitalism, it is no surprise that the United States is home to a large number of billionaires. However, the United States has lost their place as the country with the most billionaires in the world to China. This rise of billionaires in China has coincided with the liberalization of its economy and successive high growth rates. However, North America still leads the way in terms of the highest number of ultra high net worth individuals – those with a net worth of more than fifty million U.S. dollars. The prominence of Europe and North America is a reflection of the higher degree of economic development in those states. However, this may also change as China and other emerging economies continue developing. 

    Female billionaires

    Moreover, the small proportion of female billionaires does little to counter critics claiming the global economy is dominated by an elite comprised mainly of men. On the list of the 20 richest people in the world, only one was a woman. Moreover, recent political discourse has put a great amount of attention on the wealth held by the super-rich with the wealth distribution of the global population being heavily unequal.

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  • Largest donors of humanitarian aid worldwide in 2023 (in million U.S. dollars), by country
    Jan 1, 2024

    In 2023, the United States government donated around 9.5 billion U.S. dollars in humanitarian aid worldwide. The European Commission and Germany followed with over two billion U.S. dollars. However, this only shows one part of the picture, as the largest economies are likely to be the largest donors. Another way of looking at the largest donors are by how much each country gave as a share of their gross domestic product.

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  • Global inflation rate from 2000 to 2022, with forecasts until 2028 (percent change from previous year)
    Apr 22, 2024

    Inflation is generally defined as the continued increase in the average prices of goods and services in a given region. Following the extremely high global inflation experienced in the 1980s and 1990s, global inflation has been relatively stable since the turn of the millennium, usually hovering between three and five percent per year. There was a sharp increase in 2008 due to the global financial crisis now known as the Great Recession, but inflation was fairly stable throughout the 2010s, before the current inflation crisis began in 2021.

    Recent years Despite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the global inflation rate fell to 3.25 percent in the pandemic's first year, before rising to 4.7 percent in 2021. This increase came as the impact of supply chain delays began to take more of an effect on consumer prices, before the Russia-Ukraine war exacerbated this further. A series of compounding issues such as rising energy and food prices, fiscal instability in the wake of the pandemic, and consumer insecurity have created a new global recession, and global inflation in 2023 is estimated to have reached 6.9 percent. This is the highest annual increase in inflation since 1996.

    Venezuela Venezuela is the country with the highest individual inflation rate in the world, forecast at around 200 percent in 2022. While this is figure is over 100 times larger than the global average in most years, it actually marks a decrease in Venezuela's inflation rate, which had peaked at over 65,000 percent in 2018. Between 2016 and 2021, Venezuela experienced hyperinflation due to the government's excessive spending and printing of money in an attempt to curve its already-high inflation rate, and the wave of migrants that left the country resulted in one of the largest refugee crises in recent years. In addition to its economic problems, political instability and foreign sanctions pose further long-term problems for Venezuela. While hyperinflation may be coming to an end, it remains to be seen how much of an impact this will have on the economy, how living standards will change, and how many refugees may return in the coming years.

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Industry Definition

Statista offers a wide range of statistics and studies covering Economy & Politics. Under Economy, data covering business enterprise, employment, income and expenditure, international trade and treaties, key economic indicators, nonprofit organizations, as well as wages and salaries is offered. Concerning Politics & Government, Statista covers areas including elections, government employment, government finance, national security, policy, and welfare. Finally, Statista covers a wide range of International data, covering key economic indicators for more than 150 countries.

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