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

Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi all ranked in the top 10 states with the highest per capita rates of accidental shootings. Jeff Martin, The Seattle Times, "4-year-old boy finds gun under couch, kills himself with it," 9 July 2018 Despite the increase, Massachusetts still has one of the nation’s lowest per capita suicide rates, ranking 48th., "Suicide rates rise sharply across the US, new report shows," 8 June 2018 And despite the fall in average melanoma rates per 100,000 people, the overall number of invasive melanomas diagnosed in Australia is still rising -- with very high per capita rates. Jessica Mudditt, CNN, "Melanoma remains Australia's 'national cancer' with 14,000 diagnosed each year," 8 May 2018 According to the center, the state is in need of affordable health care as Florida ranks 49th among the 50 states in per capita mental health funding, with cuts being made to funding for mental health programs. Kari Barnett,, "Butterfly release to support Faulk Center, Boca High photography on display," 7 May 2018 Idaho leads the nation in the number of per capita workers in the firearms industy, 40.05 per 10,000 residents, about 6,800 workers. John Sowell, idahostatesman, "Idaho 1st among states that lean on gun business, personal-finance website says | Idaho Statesman," 19 Mar. 2018 Yukon has the highest per capita sales of alcohol in the country, adding to the researchers' interest. Author: Ian Austen, Anchorage Daily News, "Yukon government gives in to liquor industry on warning label experiment," 7 Jan. 2018 All of these factors combine to boost economic growth and higher income per capita. Sean Illing, Vox, "Want less poverty in the world? Empower women.," 5 Nov. 2018 Spain had the highest net immigration per capita of any EU country between 2000 and 2009, when its roaring economy attracted workers from Latin America, North Africa and elsewhere. Jeannette Neumann, WSJ, "As Migrants Turn to Spain, a Welcome Mat Shows Signs of Wear," 23 Sep. 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

3 Jan 2019

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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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involving abstract or general statements

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