According to 2012 IMF data, only 30.2% of the world’s population lived in countries with a higher nominal GDP per capita than China, while 50.2 percent lived in countries with a lower one. China itself constituted 19.6 percent of the world’s population at this time.
China is now in the top half of the world as far as economic development is concerned, and to avoid any suggestions of exaggeration, it should be made clear that these comparisons are at the current market exchange rate measures usually used in China – although calculations in parity purchasing powers (PPPs), which are the measure preferred by the majority of Western economists, makes no significant difference to the result.
China had a GDP of 51.9 trillion yuan at the end of 2012. China had a population of 1.354 billion at the end of 2012.
China’s GDP per capita on an exchange rate basis was US$6180 at the end of 2012.
In May 2013, China’s GDP per capita is US$6500 (after GDP growth and inflation and exchange rate.)
At the end of 2013, China’s GDP per capita should be about US$6800.
If China has 8.0% GDP growth, 2.5% inflation and 5% currency appreciation then on an exchange rate basis
Per Capita GDP Daily per Capita GDP 2014 US$7900 $18.6 2015 US$9190 $21.7 2016 US$10680 $25.2 2017 US$12410 $34
China has made extraordinary progress since 1978. In 1978, when “reform and opening up” began, only 0.5 percent of the global population lived in countries with a lower GDP per capita than China, while 73.5 percent lived in countries with a higher GDP per capita.
Population of countries needs to be taken into account when ranking GDP per capita
Why do some persist with misrepresenting China as being “in the middle” or even more misleadingly dubbing it a “poor” country by international Standards?
Such misrepresentations make elementary statistical errors which are familiar to those who analyze income distribution data. For example the following argument is sometimes presented: The IMF World Economic Outlook database gives GDP per capita statistics for 188 countries with China ranking 94th – therefore China is “in the middle “. Another sometimes-cited statistic compares China to the world average – in 2012 China’s GDP per capita was 59 percent of this average figure – making China appear a” poor “country.
The problem with this “list” method is that it does not take population into account. For example, the Caribbean state St Kitts and Nevis, population 57,000, has a higher GDP per capita than China while India, population 1.223 billion, has a lower one. To say China is “between the two”, as though St Kitts and Nevis and India represent equivalent weights in the world economy, is playing games with words rather than carrying out serious analysis. This elementary statistical rule is particularly relevant given that the number of developed economies with small populations is disproportionately large. The population of countries must therefore be taken into account when calculating China’s real relative position in the world economy.
This statistical distortion is clear from international data. Average world GDP per capita, that is world GDP divided by the number of people, is slightly more than $10,000 per year. But only 29.9 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with GDP per capita above that level while 70.1 percent live in countries below it. Something with only 29.9 percent above and 70.1 percent below is not most people’s idea of an average.
To classify as “high income” (per World Bank definitions), an economy must have an annual GDP per capita of slightly more than $12,000. Only 16 percent of the world’s population lives in such economies. It will take 10-15 years [Note NBF indicates that the $12000 per capita income should happen far sooner even after using 2005 constant dollars it should be 2018 or 2019.] for China to achieve “high income” status – although when it does this will more than double the number of people living in such economies.