Money per capita can be a vague term referring to income per capita, money supply per capita, GDP per capita or net worth per capita. Moreover, even these terms can be vague and describe different forms of income, money supply or wealth. Income per capita can refer to discretionary income per capita or disposable income per capita, for example. Countries often use these various measures to different degrees in order to explain their wealth. This article focuses on disposable income per capita to identify the countries with the most money per capita.
Disposable Income Per Capita Defined
Disposable income is measured by income left over after accounting only for effective taxes; it is the money left over for spending and savings after subtracting taxes on gross income. You can think of disposable income as the money you take in without taking out your necessary expenses, such as mortgage payments, groceries, and health insurance, but less the taxes paid. Income minus these expenses and taxes lead to discretionary income — that income which is available for entertainment and other expenses not necessary for survival. Per capita simply means per person and is often used in economic circles; thus, disposable income per capita for a country is calculated by adding all the gross income for the country less taxes and dividing the sum by the country's population.
The following disposable income per capita figures for the top five countries are from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as of 2016. Disposable income per capita is specifically the household net-adjusted disposable income per capita according to the OECD. The average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita for OECD countries in 2016 is $29,016, which should help you put the following amounts in perspective.
1. United States
The United States has the most money per capita, with $41,071 in household net-adjusted disposable income per capita. That puts the United States 41.5% above the OECD average. With 319 million people residing in the United States, its economy is the largest in the world, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $17.4 trillion. The U.S. economy has benefited from a boom in energy production in the last few years and has made the United States number one in oil and natural gas production in the world.
The small country of Luxembourg has $40,914 in money per capita, putting it not far behind the United States. Luxembourg's money per capita is 41% above the average. This European country, nestled between Germany, France, and Belgium, is home to only 600,000 people and has a GDP of $51.4 billion. The United States, in comparison, has 532 times the population and 339 times the GDP.
Switzerland commands $35,952 in money per capita, 23.9% above the average. Switzerland is known for its banking system and is home to 8.1 million people. The country has a GDP of $473 billion.
Norway has $33,393 in money per capita, putting the country 15.1% above the average. With a population of 5.2 million people and a GDP of $345 billion, Norway makes its way with a natural resource-driven economy focused on oil, fisheries, and metals. Norway's sovereign wealth fund is worth $900 billion and is funded largely by the country's oil industry.
Australia's household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is $33,138, which is 14.2% above the average. Australia has a GDP of $1.1 trillion and a population of almost 24 million people. The country is rich with natural resources, which is reflected in one of the primary engines of its economy: mining.