For operational and analytical purposes, the World Bank’s main criterion for classifying economies is gross national income (GNI) per capita. In previous editions of our publications, this term was referred to as gross national product, or GNP. (Learn more about this change in terminology.) Based on its GNI per capita, every economy is classified as low income, middle income (subdivided into lower middle and upper middle), or high income. Other analytical groups based on geographic regions are also used.

A short history

The Bank's analytical income categories (low, middle, high income) are based on the Bank's operational lending categories (civil works preferences, IDA eligibility, etc.). Learn about the history of operational guidelines.

Group definitions

These tables classify all World Bank member countries (188), and all other economies with populations of more than 30,000 (214 total).

Geographic region: Classifications and data reported for geographic regions are for low-income and middle-income economies only. Low-income and middle-income economies are sometimes referred to as developing economies. The use of the term is convenient; it is not intended to imply that all economies in the group are experiencing similar development or that other economies have reached a preferred or final stage of development. Classification by income does not necessarily reflect development status.

Income group: Economies are divided according to 2012 GNI per capita, calculated using the World Bank Atlas method. The groups are: low income, $1,035 or less; lower middle income, $1,036 - $4,085; upper middle income, $4,086 - $12,615; and high income,$12,616 or more.

Lending category: IDA countries are those that had a per capita income in 2012 of less than $1,205 and lack the financial ability to borrow from IBRD. IDA loans are deeply concessional—interest-free loans and grants for programs aimed at boosting economic growth and improving living conditions. IBRD loans are noncessional. Blend countries are eligible for IDA loans because of their low per capita incomes but are also eligible for IBRD loans because they are financially creditworthy.

Notes: Income classifications are set each year on July 1. These official analytical classifications are fixed during the World Bank's fiscal year (ending on June 30), thus countries remain in the categories in which they are classified irrespective of any revisions to their per capita income data. Taiwan, China, is also included in high income.


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