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Gross National Income (GNI)


Gross National Income (GNI) is the sum of a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the net income received from overseas. It encompasses all the earnings of a country’s residents, corporations, and businesses, regardless of whether their activities are within the domestic economy or abroad. Therefore, it depicts the total income of a nation’s citizens, including profits made through foreign investments.


Gross National Income (GNI) can be phonetically transcribed as: /groʊs næʃənəl ‘ɪnkʌm/

Key Takeaways

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  1. Definition: Gross National Income (GNI) is the total monetary value of all goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. It encompasses domestic production by citizens and businesses (both those located within the country and those operating abroad), but excludes domestic production by foreigners.
  2. Usage: GNI is often used to measure an economy’s overall output or size and is commonly used in economics to compare the total wealth of nations. It helps economists and policymakers understand the current economic health of a country and make international comparisons.
  3. Difference from GDP: GNI and GDP (Gross Domestic Product) are similar but not interchangeable terms. Both represent the market value of goods and services produced, but GDP measures those produced within a country’s borders, whereas GNI measures those produced by a country’s residents, no matter where they live.


Gross National Income (GNI) is an essential economic indicator that is used to measure and track a nation’s wealth and economic performance over time. It includes all the income earned by a country’s residents, businesses, and earnings from foreign sources. By considering the total income of residents, both inside and outside the country, policymakers and economists can assess the comprehensiveness and health of an economy. Comparing GNI across different countries can provide insights into the relative economic strength of nations, which can be important for various decisions such as foreign investment, economic policies, and humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, per capita GNI is often used to compare the average income and standard of living of residents in different countries, contributing to the understanding of global economic disparities.


Gross National Income (GNI) is a critical measure that provides comprehensive insights into the productivity of a nation, enabling economists and policymakers to gauge the economic health and performance of a country effectively. It encompasses all of the income earned by a country’s residents and businesses, including income from foreign sources, which equips policy makers with a broader perspective of the economy and the overall economic welfare of their citizens. GNI is thus employed to perceive national economic activity, assess the living standard of citizens, and form comparison between countries to offer a bearing of economic performance on an international scale.Moreover, it serves as an instrumental metric for international development organizations like the World Bank when categorizing countries into different income groups namely high income, middle income, and low income. These classifications are instrumental in determining the eligible countries for financial aid and developing appropriate economic programs and strategies. Consequently, GNI inherently acts as an indicator of a nation’s capacity to finance public services, improvements in infrastructure, investments in big projects, repay loans, and potentially provide aid to other countries. Hence, it’s a valuable financial tool for governments and international organizations when planning and implementing economic policy.


1. United States GNI: According to the World Bank, the United States had a GNI of approximately $55,060 per capita in 2019. This figure includes the total value produced within the country, its income received from other countries, less payments made to other countries.2. China and GNI Growth: China’s economic growth can be tracked through its GNI. In early 2000, China’s GNI per capita was just $940, but it reached approximately $10,410 per capita in 2019. This significant increase shows the growth of China’s economy and its increasing global economic influence.3. Luxembourg’s High GNI per Capita: Luxembourg has one of the highest GNI per capita in the world. With a sizable amount of wealth produced within the country and a small population, the nation’s GNI per capita was estimated at nearly $116,000 in 2019. This underscores the high standard of living and level of economic prosperity in Luxembourg.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Gross National Income (GNI)?

Gross National Income (GNI) refers to the total income earned by a nation’s residents both domestically and internationally. It includes GDP (gross domestic product) plus income earned through overseas investments, minus income earned within the country by foreign nationals or entities.

How is GNI different from GDP?

While GDP measures the total value of goods and services produced within a country’s borders, GNI also accounts for net income received from overseas. This includes foreign investments, income from foreign subsidiaries of domestic companies, earnings from citizens working abroad, and foreign aid.

Why is GNI important?

GNI is used to gauge the overall economic health of a country, as well as the average wealth of its residents. It is useful for comparison between nations and assessing economic growth.

How can GNI impact the dusiness environment of a country?

High GNI often indicates a wealthier and potentially more stable economy, which can attract businesses and investors. Conversely, a country with a low or declining GNI might be seen as less appealing for investment.

Can GNI per capita be a better standard than GNI for comparing economies?

Yes, GNI per capita, which divides the GNI by the total population, can give a more accurate picture of individual wealth and living standards. This is a valuable indicator for businesses when assessing their target market’s buying power.

How frequently is GNI calculated?

Typically, GNI is calculated annually by organizations like the World Bank, however, some countries may calculate and report it more frequently.

What factors can cause GNI to increase or decrease?

The GNI can be affected by various factors such as changes in national income sources, economic performance, shifts in population, inflation, exchange rates, and more.

Is GNI a good indicator of the standard of living?

While GNI per capita provides a macroeconomic perspective on wealth, it does not account for income inequality or other social aspects like education or healthcare. Hence, although it can be a useful indicator, it should not be the only criterion to evaluate the standard of living in a country.

Related Finance Terms

  • Net National Income (NNI)
  • Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)
  • Real GNI
  • Nominal GNI
  • Per Capita GNI

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