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Alberta in context: GDP

Alberta in context: GDP

Posted on: 6/18/2019 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

In part two of this week’s series on Alberta’s economy in context, we focus in on gross domestic product (GDP). The Owl has compared Alberta’s GDP to that of countries around the world before, but this bears repeating: while Alberta is often referred to as a “small economy,” our per capita GDP says otherwise.

It’s true that if you are looking to sell a lot of widgets, giant markets such as India (over 1.3 billion consumers and growing) and even comparatively modest markets like Germany (82.3 million) and South Korea (51.2 million) are going to be more important than little old Alberta and its 4.3 million consumers. In this sense, we are a small market. Having a small local market is one of the reasons why trade with the rest of Canada and the world is so important to us.

Our relatively small population does not necessarily mean we are a small economy. If Alberta was a country, it would be 43rd on the International Monetary Fund’s list of countries by GDP for 2017. This puts us ahead of Finland, Vietnam, Portugal and New Zealand. Keep in mind, we are also part of the Canadian economy, which was the 10th largest in the world that year.

Where we really shine is on a GDP per capita basis. From this perspective, Alberta would be the ninth richest country in the world. And, when it comes to our rank within Canada (not including the territories), we have had the highest GDP per capita since at least 1997, when the current data series starts. In terms of total GDP, we are third on the list behind Ontario and Quebec and ahead of B.C. despite its larger population.

These impressive rankings are cold comfort if you are struggling financially, out of work or wondering how to keep your business afloat. Nonetheless, they are a reminder that Alberta’s “small economy” is a worthwhile consideration for investors and businesses around the world.

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