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What does it mean if a country is rich?
Although the answer may seem simple, because it would be enough to look at which ones generate more wealth, the truth is that it is not so simple.
To create this list, several paths can be chosen, such as comparing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is basically the sum of all the goods and services produced by an economy in a year.
Simply by size, it is clear that the largest economies in the world are the United States and China , according to World Bank data.
Now, if we divide that wealth by the number of inhabitants (which is the GDP per capita), the richest are Luxembourg, Switzerland and Macao .
Although all the above is correct, many economists prefer to examine the economic health of a country, using the “parity of purchasing power” per capita, which considers the purchasing power of people in a given country.
“As we are interested in monitoring the well-being of individuals, we tend to prefer the use of this indicator,” World Bank economists Christoph Lakner, Espen Beer Prydz and Dean Jolliffe responded to BBC World.
In this context, the richest countries are Qatar, Macao and Luxembourg , followed by Singapore, Brunei and Kuwait.
The list is completed by the United Arab Emirates, Norway, Ireland and Switzerland.
|The 10 richest countries in the world||Purchasing power of the inhabitants (in US $)|
|United Arab Emirates||67,133|
|Source: World Bank (Purchasing Power Parity) per capita)|
With large reserves of oil and natural gas, the absolute monarchy of Qatar – which borders Saudi Arabia and the waters of the Persian Gulf – has consistently led the ranking of wealth in recent years, with the exception of 2013 and 2014, when Macao a jump and took away the leadership and then return to second place.
The economy of Macao (an autonomous region of the south coast of China) has depended heavily on tourism and the casino industry , while the small European country of Luxembourg, has anchored its economic development in the management of investment funds and a Exclusive private banking that grows with the support of one of the most lax tax systems in Europe.
The 10 most unequal
Although it has also been the subject of some criticism, the most common way to measure inequality in the world is the Gini Coefficient, a measurement that goes between 0 and 1, where 0 is equivalent to complete equality.
The most unequal countries in the world, according to World Bank figures, are South Africa , Haiti and Honduras.
Then follow Colombia, Brazil, Panama, Chile and Rwanda, Costa Rica and Mexico.
What is happening with Latin America?
Indeed, Latin America and the Caribbean is the most unequal region in the world, followed by sub-Saharan Africa.
|The 10 most unequal countries in the world (Gini Index)||(Higher value, more unequal country).|
|Source: World Bank “Taking on Inequality” 2016.|
And in the ranking of the 10 most unequal, eight are from the region and two are African.
However, the World Bank economists point out that at the same time Latin America “has been the most successful region in bridging the gap” between rich and poor in recent years.
A fact that could feed the idea that in the future the trend will point towards a somewhat less unequal distribution of income in the region, but that is always subject to socio-political and economic changes.