per capita

adverb or adjective
per cap·i·ta | \ (ˌ)pər-ˈka-pə-tə \

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

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Synonyms for per capita


all, apiece, each, per

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Examples of per capita in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The 27-branch Cuyahoga County Public Library system leads the nation in per capita circulation and visits among libraries of its size. Christopher Johnston, The Christian Science Monitor, "Cleveland uses literature to empower youth, overcome social divides," 9 July 2018 Addison is home to the most restaurants per capita of any town in the United States (almost 200). Jenna Scherer, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best 4th of July Fireworks in the USA," 27 June 2018 As a result, Vegas set NHL records for single-game per capita sales in all four rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with triple-digit growth compared to the league’s historical average. Matthew Gutierrez, WSJ, "The Capitals’ Stanley Cup Win Spurs Merchandise Boom in Russia," 13 June 2018 Twenty-seven percent of them have a bachelor's degree or higher and there are 24 bars and restaurants per capita. Nate Chute, Indianapolis Star, "Looking for love? Indianapolis isn't the best place to be single, per data study," 6 May 2018 But for most of the last two decades, the village that once boasted of being the leader in per capita sales for the Jewel food chain now has citizens unable or unwilling to support a local store. Jerry Shnay, Daily Southtown, "Shnay: New grocery store brings hope to village shoppers," 30 Apr. 2018 According to the state rankings in the solar census, Alabama was the 49th in per capita solar jobs and 44th in total solar jobs. Dennis Pillion,, "Alabama Power solar fee challenged as 'unjust, unlawful' in complaint to PSC," 26 Apr. 2018 Northern California, home to Silicon Valley and the rest of the Bay Area, would be the nation’s second-richest state, with a per capita personal income of about $63,000, according to 2015 data. John Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, "Splitting California in 3 would be different. That’s the only sure thing," 13 Apr. 2018 John Jensenius, the National Weather Service's lightning expert, said Illinois ranks 36th in number of lightning deaths per capita. Alicia Fabbre, Elgin Courier-News, "'I felt the shock': St. Charles fire captain, Plainfield paramedic credited with saving lives of 2 lightning strike victims," 6 July 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.

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First Known Use of per capita

1682, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for per capita

Medieval Latin, by heads

Medieval Latin, by heads

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Statistics for per capita

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for per capita

The first known use of per capita was in 1682

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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.

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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 \

Kids Definition of per capita

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

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per capita

adverb or adjective
per cap·i·ta | \ pər-ˈka-pə-tə \

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

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