difference between real and nominal gdp

The Difference Between Real and Nominal GDP: What You Need to Know

When it comes to measuring an economy’s performance, two terms often come up: real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and nominal GDP. While they may sound similar, they are distinct economic measures that reveal different information about an economy.

What is Nominal GDP?

Nominal GDP is the market value of all goods and services produced within a country’s borders, measured in current dollars – it reflects the value of all goods and services produced in a given year using current prices. It’s a measure of a country’s economic output that is not adjusted for inflation. This means it can increase or decrease due to both changes in production (real growth) and changes in prices (inflation).

What is Real GDP?

Real GDP, on the other hand, takes into consideration inflation and adjusts nominal GDP figures accordingly by removing price changes. It reflects the value of goods and services produced in a given year, using prices from some base year in the past. By adjusting for inflation, real GDP provides a clearer picture of the economy’s growth or contraction over time.

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Why Measure Both?

While nominal GDP may seem more straightforward, especially when it comes to measuring the size of a country’s economy, it can be misleading to compare nominal GDP figures between two years or countries because it does not account for changes in prices or inflation.

Real GDP, on the other hand, can help provide a more accurate picture of a country’s economic growth relative to previous periods or other countries. However, real GDP is not perfect either – as it is based on prices from some base year, it may not reflect current prices or changes in the economy’s structure that may have occurred since the base year.


In summary, nominal GDP is a measure of economic output in current dollars, while real GDP takes into account changes in prices over time. While both measures have their strengths and weaknesses, economists often use both to get a more complete picture of an economy’s performance. By understanding the differences between nominal and real GDP, you can better interpret economic data and make more informed decisions.

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Table difference between real and nominal gdp

Year Real GDP Nominal GDP Difference
2015 $15,000 $16,000 $1,000
2016 $16,500 $18,000 $1,500
2017 $17,200 $20,000 $2,800

Note: Real GDP is adjusted for inflation, while nominal GDP is not. The difference represents the impact of inflation on the economy, as nominal GDP includes the effects of both price changes and real changes in the economy, while real GDP only reflects real changes.