GDP Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

This guide will give you everything you need to understand the abbreviation GDP. Read how it’s used, its origin, its significance, and more.

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As you learn about the world, certain words, abbreviations, and phrases pop up from time to time, and you might not always know what they mean or why they’re important. One abbreviation you’ll hear on a national and international level is GDP. In order to understand its significance, you need to first understand what it means. Then, you’ll be ready to explore how it’s used and why it matters.

What Does GDP Mean?

GDP is an abbreviation that stands for gross domestic product. According to the International Monetary Fund, gross domestic product (GDP) is the monetary value of the final goods or products and services that are produced in a country for consumers during a specific period of time. For example, GDP can be calculated for a quarter or a year. 

In addition to the goods and services produced for sale in the market, GDP can include other important non-market production aspects like defense and education within the country that are provided by the government itself. Typically, GDP is used as an indicator of the country’s overall economic health. 

What Is the Origin of GDP?

American economist Simon Kuznets had a keen interest in the economic growth of nations. He worked with the National Bureau of Economic Research for more than 30 years, and during that time, he developed many methods for calculating a nation’s income and changes to it, including GDP. In 1937, Kuznets presented to the United States Congress his GDP for the years 1929 to 1935 entitled “National Income, 1929-35.” 

In 1944, the delegates from 44 nations met for three weeks in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. From July 1st through 22nd, 1944, the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference was held, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) were formed. This conference is often referred to as the Bretton Woods Conference

The goal of the conference was to establish new rules for the post-war world and develop an international monetary system after World War II. At this conference, GDP became the standard measurement used to calculate and evaluate a country’s economy. 

What Are the Types of GDP?

Certain international standards are used to measure the strength of the economies in other countries. GDP is one of those metrics used, and there are a few types of GDP that can give differing points of information.

Here are a few types of GDP:

Nominal GDP 

The nominal GDP is the assessment of the economic production of a country within an economy that includes prices. This includes inflation as part of its calculation, and this can influence the growth figures.

Real GDP 

The real GDP growth calculation adjusts for inflation. This gives a measurement that reflects the total quantity of goods and services an economy produced in a given year.

GDP per capita

GDP per capita is a metric that examines the GDP per person of a country’s entire population. It can measure the total output or income for each person on average to give a general view of the average productivity of a person or the living standards in a country on average.

GDP Growth Rate 

GDP growth rate helps measure how a country’s economy is doing over time. It is necessary to view GDP in a year-over-year assessment to see if growth is on an incline or in decline. The trajectory of this measurement can also indicate how fast an economy is growing. 

GDP Purchasing Power Parity 

GDP purchasing power parity (PPP) is not a direct measure of GDP. However, this measurement does look at how a country competes on an international level against the purchasing power of “international dollars” in other countries.

Adjustments must be made to give an accurate assessment by accounting for cost differences and local prices in order to examine real income and output. They also help assess living standards in a cross-country comparison.

How Is GDP Calculated?

GDP is typically approached in three ways. Each method should yield the same results when they are done correctly. These are the three GDP approaches.

The Expenditure Approach

The expenditure approach is sometimes called the spending approach. As you can probably assume, it uses the spending of different groups that participate in the economy to calculate a country’s GDP. You’ll often hear this mentioned in articles that discuss consumer spending. 

Consumer spending is an important component of GDP. For example, in the United States, it makes up about 66% of the GDP. Here is the formula used in this approach:

GDP = C + G + I + NX

  • GDP = Gross Domestic Product
  • C = consumption
  • G = government spending
  • I = investments
  • NX = net exports

The Income Approach

This concept of GDP calculates all the components of income earned within an economy through its factors of production. This can include:

  • Labor wages
  • Land rent
  • Interest earned as a return on capital
  • Corporate profits

All of these factors of production come together to calculate a nation’s total income.

The Production Approach 

The production approach is sometimes called the output approach. This approaches GDP from  a different perspective than the expenditure approach. The output approach measures the economic value of a country’s productivity and deducts the costs of goods that are consumed or used in the production process. These goods and services are called intermediate goods.

The production approach looks at growth from a more reflective point of view after the completion of economic activities. The expenditure approach is more of a forecasted look based on costs and spending. The income approach tends to land somewhere in the middle of the other two.

What Are Synonyms for GDP?

Synonyms help us express the same meaning using different words. When it comes to abbreviations, it’s best to look for synonyms of the word or words they represent.

Here are some synonyms for Gross Domestic Product:

  • Turnout
  • Production
  • Output
  • Volume
  • Wealth
  • Financial output
  • Financial state

What Are Antonyms for GDP?

Antonyms are how we can use different words to express the opposite meaning of a word. As with synonyms, it can be challenging to find an antonym for an abbreviation. It’s best to use the words the abbreviation represents.

Here are antonyms for Gross Domestic Product:

  • Worthlessness
  • Unimportance
  • Gross national product (GNP)

Examples of Using GDP

Examples of how to use a word or an abbreviation can really help us use the word correctly in the context in the future. Here are some examples of using GDP in a sentence:

  • In class, we’re learning to compare a country’s GDP to its GNI and GNP.
  • Does this GDP calculation account for the standard of living?
  • Deflation and inflation impact the nominal GDP.

The Last Word

GDP is a common abbreviation you’ll hear in the news. It is the gross domestic product of a country, and it is commonly used to measure the health and growth or decline of a country’s economy. Now that you know what GDP means, you’ll understand its use even more.


  1. Gross Domestic Product (GDP): An Economy’s All | International Monetary Fund 
  2. Simon Kuznets – Facts | 
  3. The Bretton Woods Conference, 1944 | US Department of State Archives