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

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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 state is transitioning from being basically a senior level management state with a highest income per capita to a state that is going into more of a blue-collar state. Neil Vigdor,, "Mansion tax draws the ire of the wealthy, real estate industry," 5 June 2019 Fort McKay’s per capita income is substantially higher than the Albertan or Canadian average. Ian Willms, National Geographic, "This is the world's most destructive oil operation—and it's growing," 11 Apr. 2019 Undocumented immigrant crime is actually lower, per capita, even as horrific incidents do exist and have been regularly invoked as anecdotes. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Trump conjures a new immigrant rape crisis," 5 Apr. 2018 The number of killings this year remains below this time last year, which was the deadliest year in city history, on a per capita basis, with 342 homicides. Kevin Rector,, "Baltimore hits 100 homicides for 2018 at second-fastest pace in a decade," 9 May 2018 But there’s been a worrying march of killings since the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal injury in police custody, that eventually set a new per capita high in 2017. David Mcfadden, The Seattle Times, "FBI: Baltimore homicide rate topped US big cities in 2017," 25 Sep. 2018 India actually has a low per capita plastic consumption of just 11 kilograms compared to Western countries where up to 10 times that is consumed each year, but its cities and water sources are visibly affected by plastic pollution. Vidhi Doshi, Washington Post, "Mumbai’s plastic ban carries costly fines and jail sentences for offenders," 26 June 2018 The government wants to boost per capita steel consumption to between 130 and 140 kilograms from 65 kilograms., "Billionaire Mahindra Doesn’t Fear Trade War Because World Needs India," 9 Mar. 2018 The number of undergraduate and advanced level science and technical degrees awarded to students per capita grew 16 percent in 2016. Jenna Lyons, San Francisco Chronicle, "Latest Silicon Valley trend: People leaving," 22 Feb. 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 2

History and Etymology for per capita

Medieval Latin, by heads

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Statistics for per capita

Last Updated

20 Jun 2019

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.

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?

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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

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Comments on per capita

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