Measuring the Size of the Economy: Gross Domestic Product

Key Concepts and Summary

Economists generally express the size of a nation’s economy as its gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the value of the output of all goods and services produced within the country in a year. Economists measure GDP by taking the quantities of all goods and services produced, multiplying them by their prices, and summing the total. Since GDP measures what is bought and sold in the economy, we can measure it either by the sum of what is purchased in the economy or what is produced.

We can divide demand into consumption, investment, government, exports, and imports. We can divide what is produced in the economy into durable goods, nondurable goods, services, structures, and inventories. To avoid double counting, GDP counts only final output of goods and services, not the production of intermediate goods or the value of labor in the chain of production.