per capita

adverb or adjective
per cap·​i·​ta | \ (ˌ)pər-ˈka-pə-tə How to pronounce per capita (audio) \

Definition of per capita

1 : equally to each individual
2 : per unit of population : by or for each person the highest income per capita of any state in the union

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for per capita


all, apiece, each, per

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of per capita in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

For every one point increase in reputation, a country is likely to see a .9% increase in tourists per capita and a .3% increase in export rates, according to Reputation Institute. Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY, "The most reputable country in the world is ...," 22 June 2018 Most noticeable to me are two items: park spending per capita and accessibility to that park land. Ed Barnhart - Special To The Observer Editorial Board, charlotteobserver, "Embarrassing: Charlotte is at the bottom of another study," 4 June 2018 Awards will be given for the most pounds collected overall and per capita and the most improved city. David Ibata, ajc, "Cherokee cities compete in recycling contest," 3 June 2018 These Are the Best Cities in the U.S. to Celebrate St. Patrick's Day, According to WalletHub WalletHub ranked the best cities for 2018 based on multiple factors, including best St. Patrick's Day forecast, most Irish pubs per capita and more. David Taylor, Houston Chronicle, "St. Patrick's celebration at St. Stephen's Episcopal, March 18," 12 Mar. 2018 Americans had fewer hospital admissions per capita and shorter stays per admission, for example, but paid more per admission and per day. Michael Hiltzik,, "Reducing healthcare costs doesn't require Bezos/Buffett/Dimon magic: Every other country already knows how," 31 Jan. 2018 In 2017, the toll of overdose deaths in West Virginia rose above 1,000 for the first time, and the state of 1.8 million people regularly leads the nation in such deaths per capita. Kris Maher, WSJ, "In West Virginia, Opioid Crisis Makes Its Mark on the Midterms," 2 Nov. 2018 Fifteen minutes away, in the settlement of Khayelitsha, the per capita income is less than $2,000 per year. Kevin Sieff, Washington Post, "Cape Town is running out of water, and the crisis has highlighted the vast divide between rich and poor," 23 Feb. 2018 To earn the tag Tree City USA, a local government must have a tree board or department, pass a tree ordinance, spend at least $2 per capita on trees or tree care and celebrate Arbor Day. Stephen Hudak,, "Arbor Day tree-planting events timely after Hurricane Irma destruction," 19 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'per capita.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of per capita

1682, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for per capita

Medieval Latin, by heads

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about per capita

Statistics for per capita

Last Updated

11 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for per capita

The first known use of per capita was in 1682

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for per capita

per capita

adverb or adjective

Financial Definition of per capita

What It Is

Per capita  is a measure of a quantity per person.

How It Works

For example, per capita GDP is a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) per person. The formula for per capita GDP is:

Per Capita GDP = Gross Domestic Product/Population

So, let's assume that Country XYZ has $100 trillion in gross domestic product and 250 million people. According to the formula, Country XYZ's net debt per capita is:

Per Capita GDP = $100,000,000,000,000/250,000,000 = $400,000

Why It Matters

Per capita measures help analysts and investors get a better feel for whether a company, country, or other entity is productive, efficient, or profitable. For instance, the per capita measure of GDP indicates whether the country’s workforce is generally becoming more or less productive – that is, whether the country’s workforce is efficiently producing goods and services that consumers want.

Source: Investing Answers

per capita


English Language Learners Definition of per capita

: by or for each person

per capita

adverb or adjective
per cap·​i·​ta | \ pər-ˈka-pə-tə How to pronounce per capita (audio) \

Kids Definition of per capita

: by or for each person What is the per capita income?

Keep scrolling for more

per capita

adverb or adjective
per cap·​i·​ta | \ pər-ˈka-pə-tə How to pronounce per capita (audio) \

Legal Definition of per capita

1 : equally to each individual all property to pass to the descendants per capita used of a method of distributing an especially intestate estate — compare per stirpes

Note: Per capita distribution of an estate provides each descendant with an equal share of the estate's assets regardless of the degree of his or her kinship. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc., all receive equal shares.

2 : per unit of population : by or for each individual a high per capita tax burden

History and Etymology for per capita

Medieval Latin, by heads

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on per capita

What made you want to look up per capita? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


likely to have or produce good results

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!