ST/ESA/STAT/SER.F/64 and Corrigendum

World Comparison of Real Gross Domestic Product and Purchasing Power, 1985
Phase V of the International Comparison Programme

United Nations
Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis
Statistical Division (UNSTAT) and
Commission of the European Communities, Eurostat

Sales No. E.94.XVII.7
ISBN 92-1-161363-9
Copyright (c) United Nations, 1994. All rights reserved.

World Comparison of Real Gross Domestic Product and Purchasing Power, 1985 is a United Nations publication, Sales No. E.94.XVII.7, copyright (c) 1994 by the United Nations Statistics Division on its Internet site for information and for the convenience of users. Printed and bound copies may be purchased form United Nations Publications. This publication is also available in French.

No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

UNITED NATIONS, New York, 1994


Symbols of the United Nations documents are composed of capital letters combined with figures.
All the information regarding any country or area covered in this publication refers to each country in terms of its boundaries as they existed in the indicated reference period.


    1. African comparison
    2. Caribbean comparison
    3. ESCAP comparison
    4. EEC comparison
    5. OECD comparison
    6. European Comparison Programme

    1. Country coverage and organization
    2. Linking of regional results
    3. Uses and limitations of ICP results
      1. Some uses of ICP data
      2. Limitations
    4. Detailed tables


This publication makes available internationally comparable estimates of real gross domestic product (GDP) for the reference year 1985. The real values of GDP and its expenditure components (such as household consumption, government services and capital formation) presented in this study were obtained by applying conversion rates, called purchasing power parities (PPPs), instead of using market or official exchange rates. For certain types of analyses, PPP-converted values are considered to be more appropriate, in particular when determining the relative shares of economies in the real world output free from the fluctuations of exchange rates or the distortions caused by intercountry differences in price levels and structures. Therefore, data on real product and PPPs for countries all over the world are widely used for various analy6cal purposes, and the International Comparison Programme (ICP) offers a major source of such information.

The present report, a joint publication of the United Nations and the Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT), contains the detailed results of phase V of the International Comparison Programme (ICP) with the reference year 1985. The results in the report constitute the latest available data on real product obtained in this full-scale intercountry comparison involving detailed price surveys and national accounts data collection.

The report presents the global results of the ICP for 1985 by providing brief references to each of the regional studies on which the global exercise was based. Along with an explanation of the global framework of the ICP and its organizational procedures, the report comprises concise methodological notes. Further, it supplies the readers with information on how the results were calculated, focusing on the uses and limitations of the numbers to facilitate understanding ICP results correctly.

This publication with latest results of the global International Comparison Programme is part of a long-term endeavour of the world statistical community that has produced benchmark estimates for a growing number of countries for selected years within the period 1967-1990. The present release of ICP data for 1985 is a continuation of that work. In the sequence of ICP publications with global results, the previous one was the report World' Comparisons of Purchasing Power and Real Product for 1980, issued by the United Nations and EUROSTAT in 1986.

Since its inception in the late 1960s, the ICP has grown from a pilot project to a global programme and is carried out through cooperative efforts among a large number of organizations at the country, regional and global levels. In the course of decades, it has undergone several changes in terms of its methodology and organizational framework. The ICP is currently conducted on a regionalized basis; however, work in the various regions is carried out in a harmonized way. Thus, apart from the primary aim of producing real GDP data at the regional level, this procedure ultimately allows the derivation and processing of globally comparable results.

The numerical data presented in this report have been obtained by linking regional data for 1985. The Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT) has undertaken the processing of the global data for phase V, a major contribution to the publication of this report. The report, which is based on those calculations, was produced at UNSTAT, with the assistance of Dr. Zoltan Kenessey, in his capacity as consultant. ICP activities have been globally coordinated by the Statistical Division of the United Nations (UNSTAT).

In response to user needs and to expedite analytical studies based on ICP data, the most detailed available numerical results of the 1985 global ICP are issued in this publication. For the convenience of users, the same tables can be purchased, in diskette form, from UNSTAT. For information about ordering diskettes, please write to the Director, UNSTAT, Room DC2-1420, United Nations, New York, NY 100 17. Information on the current price of the diskette may be found in the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics.


The present publication provides the global results of phase V of the International Comparison Programme (ICP), which involved a total of 64 countries and areas with a reference year of 1985.

The ICP is a complex world-wide statistical enterprise that began in 1967 and has gone through four previous phases with reference years 197, 1973, 1975 and 1980. The Programme aims at obtaining internationally comparable data on total and per capita gross domestic product (GDP) and its breakdown by type of expenditure. It also takes into consideration the purchasing power differences of the national currencies in which the national estimates were originally compiled. Thus the Programme provides insights into the price levels of different countries.

It should be noted that the ICP has been regionalized since phase IV. The comparisons have been carried out for regions (or country groups) first; the world comparison was then achieved by linking these original comparisons to arrive at the comprehensive results. As in previous phases, ICP comparisons are the results of the cooperative efforts of many international organizations and regional centres, as well as the participating countries. During the last phase (with reference year 1985), the Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the Austrian Central Statistical Office contributed very significantly to the world-wide efforts, as well as actively carrying out regional comparisons. The World Bank, with its keen interest in the uses of the ICP results, has been involved in several aspects of the comparison work. In phase V, the Statistical Division of the United Nations Secretariat (UNSTAT) continued to perform an essential coordination role and provided advisory services where needed. The late Professor Irvin B. Kravis, founder of the ICP, and Professor Alan Heston of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, furnished valuable technical advice throughout the 1985 project.

Six regional comparisons were carried out in the framework of phase V of the ICP with 1985 as reference year. Results obtained in each of the regional exercises have already been published. The European Community (EEC) issued a report on the 1985 comparison conducted by EUROSTAT for its 12 member countries, A separate report covers the results for the 22 countries which participated in the 1985 comparison conducted by the OECD. Results of the European comparison for 1985, covering 17 European OECD countries plus three Eastern European countries, were published by the ECE. Results of the 1985 African comparison, covering 22 African countries conducted by EUROSTAT, were also published. A study with results of the 1985 Caribbean comparison, conducted by EUROSTAT, was made available in 1991. The results of the comparison for 1985, conducted among 10 Asian countries and areas plus Japan by the ESCAP, were published by the ESCAP Secretariat in 1992.

The present report was prepared on the basis of the above-mentioned regional comparisons carried out in phase V, in which a total of 64 countries and areas participated according to their status as of 1985. The processing of the world results with reference year 1985 was undertaken by EUROSTAT in 1992 after the completion of all regional comparisons. Unfortunately, no satisfactory solution could be found for a timely integration of the Caribbean region into the world comparison and there was no full-scale comparison of the Gross Domestic Product available for Nepal. Therefore, in the final processing, world results were computed for 56 countries and areas presenting details for 53 expenditure categories on GDP.

This report is divided into four sections. Section I provides the summary results regarding the 1985 benchmark year of ICP phase V This is followed by a note on the ICP methodology (section 11). In section III, some aspects of the 1985 regional comparisons are highlighted. Finally, in section IV, the detailed results of the 1985 comparisons covering 56 countries are tabulated with notes on the countries and areas covered and the 1985 ICP linking methods of regional results. The uses and limitations of the ICP results are also given some thought in the same section. The report provides an overview of the general framework of the global comparison in figure 1. At the end of the report, a glossary and references are provided.

United Nations Statistics Division - International Comparison Programme