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Per Capita Income

Per Capita Income

What Is Per Capita Income?

Per capita income is a measure of the amount of money earned per person in a nation or geographic region. Per capita income can be utilized to decide the average per-person income for an area and to assess the standard of living and quality of life of the population. Per capita income for a nation is calculated by partitioning the country's national income by its population.

Grasping Per Capita Income

Per capita income counts everyone, even infants, as a member of the population. This stands as opposed to other common measurements of an area's success, for example, household income, which counts all individuals dwelling under one rooftop as a household, and family income, which considers a family those related by birth, marriage, or adoption who live under a similar rooftop.

Per Capita Income in the U.S.

The United States Census Bureau takes a survey of income for each capita like clockwork and reexamines its evaluations each September. The Census takes the total income for the previous year for everybody 15 years and more established and computes the median average of the data. The census incorporates earned income (counting wages, salaries, self-employment income), interest income, dividends as well as income from estates and trusts, and government transfers (Social Security, public assistance, welfare, survivor and disability benefits). Excluded are business paid healthcare, money borrowed, insurance payments, gifts, food stamps, public housing, capital gains, medical care, or tax refunds.

As per 2020 Census data, the national per capita income for the year was $39,052 in 2020. We can see, from the U.S. Census Bureau, that the per capita income is lower than the median household income of $67,521 in 2020.

Every measurement enjoys its benefits. Per capita income is useful while investigating a large number of individuals, for example, the population of the United States, which remains at in excess of 330 million. Median household income is useful while deciding the level of income disparity and poverty in a certain area as the median number wipes out exception income figures that could skew the data set.

Utilizations of Per Capita Income

Maybe the most common utilization of income per capita is to ascertain an area's wealth or lack of wealth. For instance, income per capita is one metric the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) utilizations to rank the wealthiest counties in the United States, the other being median household income.

Per capita income is likewise valuable in surveying an area's affordability. It tends to be utilized related to data on real estate prices, for example, to help decide whether average homes are far off for the average family. Famously costly areas, for example, Manhattan and San Francisco keep up with very high ratios of average home price to income per capita.

Organizations can likewise utilize per capita income while thinking about opening a store in a town or region. In the event that a town's population has a high for every capita income, the company could have a better chance at generating revenue from selling their goods since individuals would have seriously spending money versus a town with a low for each capita income.

Limitations of Per Capita Income

Despite the fact that per capita income is a famous measurement, it has a few limitations.

Livings Standards

Since per capita income utilizes the overall income of a population and partitions it by the total number of individuals, it doesn't necessarily give an accurate representation of the standard of living. As such, the data can be skewed, by which it doesn't account for income inequality.

For instance, suppose a town has a total population of 50 individuals who are earning $500,000 each year, and 1,000 individuals earning $25,000 each year. We work out the per capita income as ($500,000 * 50) + (1,000 * $25,000) to show up at $50,000,000 in total income. At the point when we partition $50,000,000/1,050 (total population), the per capita income is $47,619 for the town.

Notwithstanding, the per capita income doesn't provide us with a true image of the day to day environments for those living in the town. Envision on the off chance that federal aid or public assistance was given to towns in view of per capita income. The town, in our model, probably won't receive the fundamental aid like housing and food assistance assuming the income threshold for aid was $47,000 or less.


Per capita income doesn't reflect inflation in an economy, which is the rate at which prices rise after some time. For instance, in the event that the per capita income for a nation rose from $50,000 each year to $55,000 the next year, it would register as a 10% increase in annual income for the population. Be that as it may, on the off chance that inflation for a similar period was 4%, income would just be up by 6% in real terms. Inflation dissolves the purchasing power of the consumer and limits any increases in income. Therefore, per capita income can exaggerate income for a population.

International Comparisons

The cost of living differences can be inaccurate while making international examinations since exchange rates are excluded from the calculation. Pundits of per capita income recommend that adjusting for purchasing power parity (PPP) is more accurate, by which PPP assists with invalidating the exchange rate difference between countries. Additionally, different economies use bartering and other non-financial activity, which isn't viewed as in computing per capita income.

Savings and Wealth

Per capita income does exclude a people savings or wealth. For instance, a wealthy person could have a low annual income from not working however attracts from savings to keep a high-quality standard of living. The per capita measurement would mirror the wealthy person as a low-income earner.


Per capita remembers children for the total population, however children earn no income. Countries with numerous children would have a skewed outcome since they would have more individuals sharing the income versus countries with less children.

Economic Welfare

The welfare of individuals isn't really caught with per capita income. For instance, the quality of work conditions, the number of hours worked, education level, and medical advantages are excluded from per capita income calculations. Accordingly, the overall welfare of the community may not be accurately reflected.

It's important to consider that per capita income is just a single measurement and ought to be utilized related to other income measurements, like the median income, income by regions, and the percentage of occupants living in poverty.


  • Per capita income as a measurement has limitations that incorporate its failure to account for inflation, income disparity, poverty, wealth, or savings.
  • Per capita income is a measure of the amount of money earned per person in a nation or geographic region.
  • Per capita income decides the average per-person income to assess the standard of living for a population.