Updated PPP-based productivity measures show steep increase in regions transitioning out of agricultural-heavy economies

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New results from the ICP including purchasing power parities (PPP), price level indexes and PPP-based expenditures for reference year 2017 are now available at icp.worldbank.org. This blog series, edited by Edie Purdie, covers all aspects of the ICP and explores the use made of these data by researchers, policymakers, economists, data scientists and others. We encourage users to share their data applications and findings in this blog series via [email protected].

Purchasing power parities (PPPs) from the International Comparison Program’s (ICP) 2017 cycle have been used to update the World Development Indicators (WDI) labor productivity measure GDP per person employed. These data, available from 1991 onwards for around 200 economies as well as for regions and income aggregates, provide a comparison of output per worker in countries and regions across the world and are used to both explore progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 8 and monitor sustainable and inclusive growth within the World Bank’s corporate scorecard. Hover over the map below to see individual country data.

North America records the highest regional level at $125,000 per worker in 2019 while Sub-Saharan Africa records the lowest level at $10,000. This data series, measured in constant 2017 PPP dollars and providing a temporal analysis, also shows the steep rise in productivity since 2000 in East Asia and South Asia: growth in both regions was nearly 150% over twenty years. Productivity also grew by over 40% in Sub-Saharan Africa, outpacing other regions. Growth was slowest in Latin America and the Caribbean, at just over 10% over the period.

These productivity gains can be attributed in part to these regions pivoting away from predominantly agriculture-based employment to the industry and services sectors where, globally, value-added per worker was seven times that for agriculture in 2019. Sectoral change in other regions, where services have been dominant for many years, has been less dramatic.

The recent World Bank report Global Productivity: Trends, Drivers, and Policies explores the many other factors driving productivity across economies and regions and assesses the impact of COVID-19 on future growth. PPP-based economic indicators from the International Comparison Program will help steer comparisons of the post-pandemic recovery of economies and regions in the years ahead. 

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