In recent stories, we examined in depth different countries’ GDP per capita and economies, such as Vietnam’s GDP per capita as well as Mexico’s GDP per capita. The economic chaos created by the pandemic has made the study of the global economy and individual countries’ economies more pertinent than ever. While some nations have weathered the economic storm fairly well, others have been severely impacted. Using data from The World Bank, we analyzed various countries’ GDP per capita (in current U.S. dollars as well as in constant 2015 U.S. dollars) and their change over the years. For this study, we decided to focus on Canada and its GDP per capita.
Read on to find out the Canada GDP per capita, its change over the years, and other economic details about America’s northern neighbor.
Canada GDP per Capita: A Detailed Analysis
According to the latest data (2021 data) from The World Bank, Canada GDP per capita is $52,051.35 in current U.S. dollars. That’s a major improvement from the previous year when Canada GDP per capita was $43,258.26 in 2020. Year over year, this is nominally almost an increase of $10,000 in GDP per capita. In fact, the last time that Canada GDP per capita exceeded $52,000 was back in 2013, when the country’s GDP per capita was $52,635.17. However, all these figures are in current U.S. dollars. Looking at Canada’s GDP per capita through a different lens reveals a less sanguine picture.
Using a different metric, specifically, constant 2015 U.S. dollars rather than current U.S. dollars, Canada’s GDP per capita is $43,945.56 as of 2021. Using constant 2015 U.S. dollar values provide a more realistic picture of Canada’s GDP per capita over time. Where using current U.S. dollars makes it appear that Canada GDP per capita rose from 2020 to 2021 by almost $10,000, using constant 2015 U.S. dollars reveals a much smaller increase: From $42,258.69 in 2020 to $43,945.56 in 2021 — roughly a 4% increase year-over-year, but nothing like the 20.3% increase that results from calculating Canada GDP per capita in current U.S. dollars.
Like most countries, Canada’s economy was struck hard by the pandemic. Based on annual GDP per capita growth, which The World Bank calculates using constant local currency, Canada GDP per capita fell by 6.32% from 2019 to 2020. In constant 2015 U.S. dollars, Canada GDP per capita fell from $45,109.24 in 2019, down to $42,258.69 in 2020. What’s more, Canada’s GDP per capita in 2019 (in constant 2015 U.S. dollars) was a historic peak: In no year before 2019 did Canada GDP per capita exceed $45,000.
Table of Canada GDP per Capita Over the Years
To get a clearer picture of Canada’s GDP per capita, below is a table that details the country’s GDP per capita in current U.S. dollars, constant 2015 U.S. dollars, and annual percentage growth in GDP per capita, which The World Bank calculates based on constant local currency. Here’s a look at Canada GDP per capita over the last 15 years:
Based on the values given in current U.S. dollars for Canada’s GDP per capita, from 2006 to 2021 the country’s GDP per capita rose by 28.5%: From $40,504.06 to $52,051.35. However, when analyzing Canada GDP per capita in constant 2015 U.S. dollars, its growth from 2006 to 2021 was only 10.5%: From $39,776.18 to $43,945.56.
The largest year-over-year decline in Canada GDP per capita occurred from 2019 to 2020, when it dropped by 6.32%. The second largest decline year-over-year occurred from 2008 to 2009, when Canada GDP per capita fell by 4.03%; this decline occurred at the height of the Great Recession, let loose on the world economy by America’s housing market crash. Before the crash, America’s housing bubble fueled significant economic growth, as seen in the annual growth rate of Canada GDP per capita from 2005 to 2006 of 3.12%, and annual growth rate from 2006 to 2007 of 5.84% — an annual GDP per capita increase that has not been surpassed since.
Canada GDP per Capita: A Look at Canada’s Economy Over the Years
Using data from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), we can evaluate how much the economy of Canada has changed over the last 15 years. Since OEC data only goes up to 2020 (unless you have the paid Pro version), our 15-year period here is from 2005 to 2020. Back in 2005, Canada’s biggest export product was cars, which accounted for 10.71% of its total exports that year and equal to $37.3 billion. Jumping forward 15 years to 2020, the exportation of cars accounted for only 8.58% of total export value, equal to $31.8 billion.
So, what took the place of cars as Canada’s top export? As of 2020, crude petroleum has become Canada’s top export, accounting for 12.72% of total export value and equal to $47.2 billion. What’s more, the exportation of crude petroleum from Canada increased dramatically as a percentage of total export value over the last 15 years: In 2005, crude petroleum exports accounted for only 7.05% of total export value, equal to $24.6 billion. While in terms of percentage-points 12.72% in 2020 versus 7.05% in 2005 may seem small, in terms of 15-year percentage change, it’s equal to growth of 80.5%.
Another notable export that has exploded in terms of its share of total export value is gold. Back in 2005, exports of gold accounted for only 0.92% of total export value, or about $3.2 billion. By 2020, however, exports of gold now account for 3.89% of total export value, equal to $14.4 billion. The 15-year percentage change from 0.92% to 3.89% is equal to a growth rate of 325.14%. Gold now represents Canada’s third largest export as a percentage of total export value.
Perhaps related to the growth in the export of crude petroleum, Canada’s exportation of petroleum gas has fallen substantially over the last 15 years. In 2005, petroleum gas accounted for 9.12% of Canada’s total export value, equal to $9.6 billion. By 2020, however, exports of petroleum gas accounted for a mere 1.86% of total export value, equal to roughly $6.9 billion.
The destinations of Canada’s exports have also markedly changed over the last 15 years. The U.S. is still Canada’s top export destination, but in 2005 exports to the U.S. accounted for 81.95% of total export value, equal to approximately $285.6 billion. By 2020, exports to the U.S. accounted for 71.24% of total export value, equal to roughly $264.2 billion. Meanwhile, exports to China have increased significantly as a share of Canada’s total export value: From only 1.84% ($6.4 billion) in 2005, up to 5.2% ($19.3 billion) in 2020. Indeed, China has overtaken the United Kingdom and Japan as one of Canada’s top destinations for exports.
The change in Canada’s exports over the last 15 years, especially the massive increase in crude petroleum as the now preeminent export, could be related to another development: A relative decline in Canada’s economic complexity. Based on the OEC’s Economic Complexity Indicators (ECI), over the last 20 years, the Canadian economy has become relatively less complex, dropping from 18th place in 2000 to 29th in 2020 in the ECI rank (the current country ECI rankings run from 1st place to 136th). Canada isn’t alone among “developed” nations that have witnessed a relative decline in economic complexity: For example, the U.K. dropped from 6th place in 2000 to 13th in 2020; Denmark fell from 14th place in 2000 to 27th in 2020; and the Netherlands declined from 11th place in 2000 to 22nd in 2020.