GDP Per Capita as a Measure of Well Being

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GDP Per Capita as a Measure of well being
When countries are compared using their GDP per capita important factors such as health, education and quality of environment are not included and thus the overall well being of the nation may not be accurately measured, in order to determine whether this statement is accurate we should compare well being in countries with differing GDP per capita results, we will examine various statistics from the United States, Norway and the Netherlands. Factors such as Health, Education, Unemployment, Banks, Prison Statistics and Wellbeing surveys must all be considered in order to determine whether the above statement is true. Gross domestic product (GDP) can be defined as the “total market value of all final goods and services produced in a country in a given year, equal to total consumer, investment and government spending, plus the value of exports, minus the value of imports.” GDP per capita on the other hand is defined as the approximate estimate of the value of goods produced per person in the country, it is calculate by dividing the country's GDP by the total number of people in the country (Investor Words, 2011). The GDP per capita statistics according to the CIA World Factbook (2011), these statistics established in 2010 reveal the differences in GDP per capita between the countries that will be examined.

GDP per Capita (2011)
Rank| | Country| Value| | Date of Info|
6| | Norway | $59,100| | 2010 est.|
10| |  United States| $47,400| | 2010 est.|
18| |  Netherlands| $40,500| | 2010 est.|
(CIA World Factbook, 2011)
We can see that these countries have a large difference in their GDP per capita, other factors must now be considered in order to determine whether GDP per capita is an accurate measure of well being.

In the Gallop Global Wellbeing Survey (2009), countries are ranked according to the feedback received from surveys completed by their citizens.

Wellbeing Survey
-----------------------| % 
---------------| % 
----------------| % 
----------------| Daily 
3| Norway| 69| 31| 0| 7.9|
5| Netherlands| 68| 32| 1| 7.7|
14| United States| 57| 40| 3| 7.3|
| | | | | |
As we can see people from Norway rank 3rd with none suffering and the majority of the population (68%) thriving, this is to be expected as the GDP per capita is higher than the other two countries, however, the Netherlands comes in 5th place with a similar percentage of the population thriving (67%) only 1% is suffering. The United States on the other hand is ranked down at 14th position with almost half of the population either Struggling (40%) or suffering (3%). These figures prove that GDP per capita may have an effect, but it does not guarantee that all of the population is in a good state of wellbeing. The World Health Organisation ranked countries of the world according to their Health Systems; this was done in 2000 and has not been done since due to the complexity of the task, at the time however our three countries were ranked as follows.

Health System Rankings
Rank Country
11 Norway
17 Netherlands
37 United States of America
(World Health Organisation, 2000)
Once again Norway ranks top, the Netherlands follows and the United States comes in last place despite its GDP per capita being much higher than the Netherlands.

The United Nations Development Programme released statistics regarding the Prison Population and Incarceration Rate (2007) ranked by country, the results were as follows.

Prison Population and Incarceration Rate...
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