10 Countries With the Highest Incomes

Countries use various measures to gauge their wealth. Below we outline the 10 countries with the highest incomes, based on disposable income per capita. Disposable income is the amount of money a person has available after paying their taxes.

Key Takeaways

  • Disposable income per capita is one way to measure a country's wealth.
  • Disposable income is income available for spending and saving after taxes have been paid.
  • The United States had $62,334 in disposable income per capita in 2021, the most of any nation.
  • Other countries with high disposable income per capita include Luxembourg, Australia, Germany, and Switzerland.
  • Of the top 10 countries, France had the smallest amount of per capita disposable income, at $39,862.

About Disposable Income Per Capita

Disposable income refers to the income an individual has left from gross income after subtracting payments for income taxes. Per capita simply means "average per person." Thus, disposable income per capita for a country is calculated by adding all the gross income for the country, subtracting a figure for taxes, and dividing the sum by the country's population.

Money per capita can refer to income per capita, money supply per capita, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, or even net worth per capita. Income per capita can refer to discretionary income per capita or disposable income per capita.

Sources

The following 2021 disposable income per capita figures are the latest available from the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). The OECD specifically defines these disposable income per capita figures as the gross household adjusted disposable income per capita. All amounts are in U.S. dollars.

Population figures were obtained from the World Bank. Gross domestic product (GDP) amounts for 2022 also come from the OECD.

1. United States

Sailboat on East River by Manhattan skyline, New York City.
Justyna Galicka / Getty Images
  • Disposable income per capita: $62,334.17
  • Population: 331.8 million
  • Gross domestic product: $25.46 trillion (estimate)

The United States tops the list for 2021. The country’s GDP was the largest GDP on our list, making the U.S. the world's largest economy. Key sectors in the U.S. include financial services, professional and business services, manufacturing and health care. 

2. Luxembourg

Luxembourg
Pixabay.
  • Disposable income per capita: $51,465.35
  • Population: 640,000
  • Gross domestic product: $93.96 billion (estimate)

The small European country of Luxembourg is nestled between Germany, France, and Belgium. U.S. GDP is just a bit under 300 times the size of Luxembourg's. Much of Luxembourg’s economic success stems from banking, by which the country has grown into a global financial center.

3. Australia

Australia
Pixabay.
  • Disposable income per capita: $45,052.30
  • Population: 25.6 million
  • Gross domestic product: $1.78 trillion (estimate)

Australia's GDP made it the 13th largest economy in the world in 2021. It often has a positive trade balance, exporting more than it imports. The country is rich with natural resources, which is reflected in one of the primary engines of its economy—mining.

4. Germany

Germany
Pixabay.
  • Disposable income per capita: $44,443.73 (estimate)
  • Population: 83.1 million
  • Gross domestic product: $5.37 trillion (estimate)

Germany was the fourth largest world economy in 2021. The country is a major exporter, notably of cars, and, in fact, was the world's largest car exporter. It's home to major car brands such as Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW. Germany is also a major exporter of chemicals.

5. Switzerland

The Reuss River in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Marco Bottigelli / Getty Images
  • Disposable income per capita: $44,406.87 (estimate)
  • Population: 8.7 million
  • Gross domestic product: $723.52 billion

Switzerland is a country with a stable market economy, favorable taxation laws, strong financial and tourism sectors, and a skilled workforce. Its main exports are pharmaceuticals, gold, watches, and jewelry.

Disposable income differs from purchasing power parity (PPP), which is another measure of a country’s wealth. PPP is used to compare prices for goods across countries, with the Big Mac Index being one of the most famous examples of PPP.

6. Norway

Norway
Pixabay.
  • Disposable income per capita: $43,850.82
  • Population: 5.4 million
  • Gross domestic product: $518.56 billion

Norway makes its way with a natural resource-driven economy focused on oil, fisheries, and metals. Norway's sovereign wealth fund was worth $1.26 billion in 2022 and is funded largely by the country's oil industry.

7. Austria

Austria
Pixabay.
  • Disposable income per capita: $41,858.57
  • Population: 8.9 million
  • Gross domestic product: $621.66 billion

The East Central European country of Austria borders Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Italy, among other nations. Over the years, the country’s shift toward privatization, i.e., less regulation, has improved its economy. Much of the economic growth is driven by the energy industry, and renewable energy has accounted for about 30% of gross domestic consumption.

8. The Netherlands

Netherlands
Pixabay.
  • Disposable income per capita: $41,256.01 (estimate)
  • Population: 17.5 million
  • Gross domestic product: $1.25 trillion (estimate)

Bordering the North Sea, the Netherlands is smaller than the U.S. state of West Virginia. Yet it ranked as the 17th largest world economy per GDP in 2021. Much of the economic success of the Netherlands has come about due to natural gas discoveries. Refined petroleum is its largest export category.

9. Belgium

Belgium
Pixabay.
  • Disposable income per capita: $40,778.80 (estimate)
  • Population: 11.6 million
  • Gross domestic product: $769.61 billion (estimate)

Officially the Kingdom of Belgium, this country is located in northwestern Europe. Belgium is world-renowned for its chocolate shops and factories. Given its location, Belgium’s economic strong suit is exporting, notably vehicles and medicine. 

10. France

Cafes and restaurant in La Petite France, Strasbourg, Alsace, France
Pakin Songmor / Getty Images
  • Disposable income per capita: $39,862.61 (estimate)
  • Population: 67.7 million
  • Gross domestic product: $3.81 trillion (estimate)

As measured by GDP, France was the 7th ranked economy in 2021. Its top exports were chemical products, motor vehicles and transport equipment, machinery, and food. In fact, it was the world's biggest exporter of wine, planes and helicopters, beauty products, and perfume.

What Drives Higher Average Incomes?

Due to the nature of disposable income, changing spending habits does not impact it. Instead, higher wages or lower taxes are key to boosting disposable income. Here are some related ways that a country might increase it.

Population Changes

Lowering population while keeping the income the same will increase per capita disposable income. However, that may be tough to do, as the trend for most countries is a growing population.

Hours Worked

Income per capita increases with a greater aggregate number of hours worked. And, more employees going from part-time to full-time employment means more income per person. This contributes to increasing employment and a greater number of employed people will raise the income per capita.

Government Investment and Policies

Investing in technology can help make processes more efficient and boost income potential. More specifically, the allocation of resources in a more effective way can power income per capita. Government spending, such as on infrastructure and defense, can also increase incomes, as can government policies, such as tax programs and subsidies.

Education

Better educated workers can lead the way to higher incomes. Those able to do more complex tasks, or to implement more productive ways of doing tasks, can improve pay rates by streamlining efficiency.

Which Country Has the Highest Per Capita Income?

The U.S. has the highest disposable income per capita at $62,334.17 with a total population of 331.8 million.

How Do You Calculate Per Capita Income?

Basically, to get a figure for per capita income, one can total the amount of a country's income and divide it by the figure for its population.

How Does Disposable Income Differ From Discretionary Income?

Disposable income is a person's gross income less the amount spent to pay taxes. Discretionary income is that gross income less tax payments as well as payments for fixed costs such as the mortgage, food, insurance, etc.

The Bottom Line

The countries with the highest disposable income per capita don't all have the largest population or GDP. The U.S., with a population of over 330 million and GDP of more than $25 trillion, may top the list of countries with the highest incomes. But countries such as Luxembourg and Norway, both with comparatively small populations and GDPs (640,000 and $94 billion, and 5.4 million and $518 billion, respectively), rank second and sixth out of the top ten.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. "National Accounts at a Glance," Select Indicator, Part V: Households, Gross household adjusted disposable income per capita, US dollars, current prices and current PPPs.

  2. World Bank. "Population 2021."

  3. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. "National Accounts at a Glance," Select Indicator, Part I: Gross Domestic Product (GDP), current PPPs, billions US dollars.

  4. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. "Gross Output by Industry, Billions of Dollars, Seasonally Adjusted at Annual Rates."

  5. The Heritage Foundation. "2023 Index of Economic Freedom."

  6. Observatory of Economic Complexity. "Australia - Product Exports."

  7. Observatory of Economic Complexity. "Germany - Product Exports."

  8. Observatory of Economic Complexity. "Switzerland - Product Exports."

  9. The Economist. "Our Big Mac index shows how burger prices are changing."

  10. Norges Bank Investment Management. "The fund's development."

  11. Austrian Energy Agency. "Energy Efficiency Trends and Policies in Austria," Page 6.

  12. Observatory of Economic Complexity. "Belgium - Trade Products."

  13. Observatory of Economic Complexity. "France."

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