Output Gap


DEFINITION of 'Output Gap'

An economic measure of the difference between the actual output of an economy and the output it could achieve when it is most efficient, or at full capacity. There are two types of output gaps: positive and negative. A positive output gap occurs when actual output is more than the full-capacity output. Negative output gap occurs when actual output is less than full-capacity output.


The measure compares the actual GDP (output) of an economy and the potential GDP (efficient output). When the economy is running an output gap, either positive or negative, it is thought to be running at an inefficient rate as the economy is either overworking or underworking its resources. Economic theory suggests that positive output gap will lead to inflation as production and labor costs rise.

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