Income inequality is an increasingly contentious political issue in the United States. The top 1% of earners in the United States control nearly double the amount of wealth as the lowest earning 50%. This is not a uniquely American problem however — and income inequality in the United States appears to be a microcosm of uneven wealth distribution on a global scale.
North America is home to fewer than 5% of the global population — yet the continent’s combined gross domestic product accounts for over one-quarter of global economic activity. Meanwhile, sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly 14% of the world’s population, yet the region’s economic output accounts for only 2% of global GDP.
While GDP is a practical way to measure the size of a given country or region’s economy, it does not accurately reflect the overall wealth of a population. Unlike GDP, gross national income, or GNI, accounts for all economic activity within a country’s borders in addition to wealth generated by nationally-owned entities operating abroad. Adjusted to the population and converted to U.S. dollars, GNI per capita is a good approximation of the average income of residents of a given country.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed GNI per capita in over 170 nations to identify the 25 poorest countries in the world. Worldwide, the average person lives on about $10,300 per year. In the poorest countries, approximate annual incomes per person range from only $900 on the high end, to less than $300 in the poorest country.