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Changes in Country Classifications

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Each year on July 1 the World Bank revises its classification of the world’s economies based on estimates of gross national income (GNI) per capita for the previous year. Income classifications on the country pages of the Open Data site and regional and income group aggregates in the World Development Indicators, Global Development Finance, and other databases will be revised accordingly at the time of their next scheduled release. The updated GNI per capita estimates are also used as input to the World Bank’s operational classification of economies, which determines their lending eligibility. The new listing of all economies included in the World Bank’s databases and their regional and income classifications can be found here.

For analytical purposes the World Bank classifies economies as low income, middle income, or high income. As of 1 July 2011 low-income economies are those that had average incomes of $1,005 or less in 2010; lower-middle-income economies had average incomes of $1,006 to $3,975; upper-middle-income economies had average incomes of $3,976 to $12,275; and high-income had average incomes of $12,276 or more. Low- and middle-income economies are commonly referred to as developing economies. However this does not imply that economies in the same income group have reached similar stages of development or that high-income economies have reached a preferred or final stage of development.

Unless otherwise noted, regional classifications are based on the World Bank’s six operational regions and include only low- and middle-income economies. To find-out more about the classification of economies, click here.

2010 Gross National Income

GNI is the sum of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and net income (labor compensation and property income) from abroad. For the purposes of classifying economies, local currency values are converted to U.S. dollars using a three-year moving average of market exchange rates, the so-called Atlas method.

Estimates of gross national income (GNI) for 2010, released on 1 July, show that the share of developing regions’ income in the global economy increased from 18 percent in 2000 to 30 percent in 2010. On a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis their share increased from 34 to 45 percent. China is now the second largest economy, after the United States, whether measured using market exchange rates or PPPs. The share of global income produced by the 10 largest economies decreased from 74 percent in 2000 to 66 percent in 2010.

Developing countries have increased their share of the global economy by growing faster than rich countries, on average 6.8 percent per year compared to only 1.8 percent for high income economies over the 2000 to 2010 period. But the difference between rich and poor countries remains large. The average income of all high-income economies was 38,658 in 2010, while that of middle-income economies was $3,764 and of low-income economies was $510.

Share of World Gross National Income (%)


New and reclassified economies
The country and lending group page provides a complete list of economies classified by income, region, and lending status. The classification tables include all World Bank members, plus all other economies with populations of more than 30,000. Netherlands Antilles ceased to exist on 10 October 2010 and as a result three new countries have been added to our list of economies: Curacao, Sint Maarten (Dutch part), and St. Martin (French part). The following table summarizes the changes in income classification of countries from last year:

Economy July 2010 Classification July 2011 Classification
China Lower middle Upper middle
Curaçao .. High
Ecuador Lower middle Upper middle
Fiji Upper middle Lower middle
Ghana Low Lower middle
Jordan Lower middle Upper middle
Lao PDR Low Lower middle
Latvia High Upper middle
Maldives Lower middle Upper middle
Mauritania Low Lower middle
Netherlands Antilles High ..
Sint Maarten (Dutch part) .. High
Solomon Islands Low Lower middle
St. Martin (French part) .. High
Thailand Lower middle Upper middle
Tunisia Lower middle Upper middle
Zambia Low Lower middle

Tables showing 2010 GDP, GNI, GNI per capita and Population data are now available on the World Bank’s Open Data site. Note that these are preliminary estimates and may be revised. Country classifications are determined once a year and remain fixed, regardless of subsequent revisions to their estimates of their GNI per capita. These estimates have not been reconciled with the historical time-series included in the WDI and GDF databases. Revisions to these databases, including 2010 estimates of national account aggregates, as well as updates to the income classifications on the country pages will be released in September 2011, December 2011, and April 2012.

For more information please send email to or use the .Feedback button on the main pages of the Open Data site.

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