The United States is often referred to as the wealthiest nation on Earth. Measured by the size of its economic output, that is the case. However, by another widely-used measure, intended to reflect the nation’s wealth relative to the size of its population, the U.S. doesn’t even fall within the top 10.
Gross national income, or GNI, represents the sum of money earned by a nation’s people and businesses within a given year. Unlike GDP, GNI also measures income earned by corporations based in the country but operating outside its borders.
Global GNI per capita — all the income earned worldwide in 2019 — was $17,591. This figure is representative of the pre-tax income the average person earned and is indicative of the average quality of life. Worldwide, GNI per capita ranges greatly, and while in some countries it is a fraction of the global figure, in others it is more than triple the global average.
Using data from the World Bank, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the GNI per capita of the 194 nations and special regions with available data to identify the 25 richest countries. GNI per capita figures for the most recent available year are calculated using purchasing power parity and are in current international dollars. These wealthiest countries span the globe from North America to Southeast Asia, though most are concentrated in Western and Northern Europe.
Most countries on this list share several common factors, including reliable infrastructure, trust in public institutions, extensive international trade, and effective management and leveraging of natural resources. While the majority of these countries have diversified, complex economies, some — particularly those in the Middle East — are almost entirely dependent on their oil wealth. These are the 15 countries that control the world’s oil.
One of the strongest correlations with income at a national level is the overall health of the population. Residents of wealthy countries tend to have better access to housing, education, nutrition, and health care — all factors that help to improve health outcomes. In every country on this list, life expectancy at birth is at least 2.4 years greater than the 72.6-year global average. Here is a list of the countries where people live the longest.
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