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

Australia’s left used to boast that their nation had more solar panels per capita than anywhere else in the world. George Melloan, WSJ, "Pruitt Leaves a Proud Legacy at the EPA," 11 July 2018 The category assessed the number of car dealerships, auto-repair shops, car washes, gas stations and parking lots/garages per capita. Fiza Pirani, ajc, "Driving in Atlanta is painful — but it’s far from the worst," 11 July 2018 Milwaukee has 32 business improvement districts and six neighborhood improvement districts — more per capita than any other U.S. city, according to a 2017 Public Policy Forum study. Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Campaign to terminate Milwaukee Bay View Business Improvement District apparently succeeds," 6 July 2018 The $930 blogging fee will likely be a barrier for many people in a country where, according to the World Bank in 2016, GDP per capita was just $878 a year. Chris Giles, CNN, "Tanzanian govt demands $900 fee from bloggers in internet clampdown," 12 Apr. 2018 The Nordic country, one of the richest in the world by GDP per capita, was last year named the happiest nation on the planet and is known for a cradle-to-grave welfare state funded in part by large reserves of oil and natural gas. Author: Terje Solsvik, Camilla Knudsen, Anchorage Daily News, "‘Thanks, but no thanks’: Norwegians reject Trump’s immigration offer," 12 Jan. 2018 This is partly because China is much poorer than the U.S. on a per capita basis. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "How Trump Plans to Change the World," 9 July 2018 New Hampshire has the highest number of overdose deaths per capita from fentanyl, which can be fatal at 2 milligrams and is often found mixed with heroin. Cristina Corbin, Fox News, "Run-ins with Carfentanil: The opioid 5,000 times more potent than heroin," 11 Apr. 2018 With a per capita income of $8,100, the average Chinese is nearly five times as rich as the average Indian. Sadanand Dhume, WSJ, "I Think I’m Going to Kathmandu, Say the Chinese," 28 June 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

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Statistics for per capita

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

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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.

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 \

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

History and Etymology for per capita

Medieval Latin, by heads

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Comments on per capita

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something that serves to warn or remind

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