Luxembourg richest in EU, Bulgaria poorest

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Luxembourg is by far the richest country in the European Union in terms of gross domestic product per capita, more than six times more affluent than the 27-nation bloc’s poorest member Bulgaria, data showed.

View of the city of Luxembourg, March 17, 2009. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said GDP per capita measured in purchasing power standard (PPS) was 283 in Luxembourg in 2010, against the euro zone average of 108 and 43 for Bulgaria.

The wealth of the Grand Duchy is partly due to the large number of people from neighbouring France, Germany and Belgium who work, but do not live in Luxembourg, therefore contributing to GDP but not being counted for the division of the wealth.

The Netherlands was the second richest country in the EU, with GDP per capita less than half of Luxembourg’s at 134 PPS and Denmark, Ireland and Austria came in third with 125 PPS.

Ireland used to be second richest in the EU after Luxembourg in 2007 with GDP per capita of 147, but fell to third place in 2008 and 2009 as the crisis of its banking sector and in the real estate market took its toll.

Wealth in Greece, struggling to regain market trust and competitiveness through austerity and reforms after years of overspending, declined sharply to 89 PPS in 2010 from 94 in 2008 and 2009.

GDP per capita in the United States was 146 PPS in 2009 -- the last year for which data is available and 145 in Switzerland.

Central and eastern European countries remained at the bottom of the wealth table -- Romania was second poorest with 45 PPS, Latvia third from the bottom with 52, Lithuania fourth with 58 and the region’s biggest country, Poland, fifth poorest with 62 PPS per capita.

The Purchasing Power Standard (PPS) is an artificial currency unit that eliminates price level differences between countries. One PPS buys the same volume of goods and services in all countries.

The unit allows meaningful volume comparisons of economic indicators across countries. Aggregates expressed in PPS are derived by dividing aggregates in current prices and national currency by the respective Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).

Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, editing by Rex Merrifield