Special Report

The Most Productive Countries in the World

The United States has been experiencing one of its longest periods of economic prosperity in ages. The country has had its longest ever period of uninterrupted monthly employment growth, adding jobs every month since October 2010. Since the end of 2009, GDP has expanded without interruption. It is the largest highly-affluent nation on earth, but adjusting for population, it is barely among the 10 most productive nations.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed World Bank data on the 50 countries with the highest GDP per person employed in 2018. These nations, some of which represent the economic powerhouses of the world, range in population from major countries like the United States, to small but influential nations and special administrative regions like Qatar and Hong Kong with populations smaller than many U.S. states.

Many of the most productive nations on the planet benefit from a wealth of natural resources. In Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, petroleum activity accounts for a large share of GDP. However, in many of the world’s most oil-rich countries, petroleum reserves and factors of production are almost entirely owned by national oil companies — and not all citizens benefit equally. Indeed, GDP per person employed is not the same as average personal wealth.

Some countries, lacking natural resources or other major economic advantages, have successfully adopted targeted development plans that focus on strengthening specific aspects of their economies. Macao, for example, legalized gambling in the 19th century and has since developed into a tourism hub for much of Asia.

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