Structure of the euro area economy

This section introduces the main economic and financial structures of the euro area economy.
For details, see Chapter 2 of the book "The monetary policy of the ECB" (see link on the right-hand side).

Key characteristics

Compared with its individual member countries, the euro area is a large and much more closed economy. In terms of its share of global GDP, it is the world’s third-largest economy, after the United States and China.

As in other highly developed economies, the service sector has the largest share of total output, followed by the industrial sector, while the share of agriculture, fishing and forestry is relatively small. The euro area is also one of the world’s largest economies in terms of population, with almost 340 million people.

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Key real economy characteristics of the euro area and other major economic areas in 2014

Sources: For the euro area: ECB, Eurostat, national data and ECB calculations; for the Unites States, Japan and China: BIS, IMF, OECD, Reuters and national sources.
*) 2013 figures
Notes:
1.  Data refer to Euro 19.
2.  Euro data, US and Japan: annual average; China: end of the year data.
3.  Data for US, Japan and China are converted into euro at OECD purchasing power parities (PPPs).
4.  Ratio of the labour force to the working age population (aged 15 to 64). US: the proportion of the civilian non-institutional population (aged 16 to 64) either at work or actively seeking work. Annual average.
5.  Ratio of persons employed to the working age population (aged 15 to 64). US: the proportion of the civilian non-institutional population (aged 16 to 64) at work. Annual average.
6.  General government data for China are not directly comparable with the other major economic areas.
7.  General government debt consists of deposits, debt securities and loans outstanding at nominal value and is consolidated within the general government sector. Chinese data follow a different methodology and are not directly comparable. Year-end.
8.  European definition also for US and JP.
9.  Euro area: based on extra-euro area transactions.

  Unit Euro area 1  United States Japan China
Population 2  millions 339.4 319.2 127.1 1,360.7*)
GDP (share of world GDP in PPP) % 12.2 16.1 4.4 16.3
GDP per capita  3  € thousands 29.8 42.1 28.2*) 9.2*)
Value added by economic activity          
   Agriculture, fishing, forestry % of total 1.6 1.2 1.2*) 10.0*)
   Industry (including constructions) % of total 24.5 18.4 24.5*) 43.9*)
   Services (including non-market services) % of total 73.8 80.4 74.3*) 46.1*)
Unemployment rate (share of the labour force) % 11.6 6.2 3.6 4.1*)
Labour force participation rate  4  % 72.3 72.7 75.5 -
Employment rate 5  % 63.8 68.1 72.8 -
General government 6           
   Surplus (+) or deficit (-) % of GDP -2.4 -5.6*) -8.5*) -1.1
   Gross debt  7  % of GDP 92.0 96.0 222.0 41.1
   Revenue % of GDP 46.5 33.1*) 33.9*) 28.5
     of which direct taxes % of GDP 12.5 12.6*) 8.7*) 5.0
     of which indirect taxes % of GDP 13.3 6.9*) 8.6*) 13.7
     of which social contributions % of GDP 15.5 6.6*) 13.0*) -
   Expenditure 8  % of GDP 48.7 38.7*) 42.3*) 29.6
     of which final consumption % of GDP 21.1 15.2*) 20.6*) -
     of which social payments % of GDP 24.0 14.3*) 22.8*) -
External 9           
   Exports of goods % of GDP 19.4 9.4 15.2 22.5*)
   Exports of goods and services % of GDP 26.3 13.5 18.7 24.8*)
   Import of goods % of GDP 17.0 13.7 17.3 18.8*)
   Import of goods and services % of GDP 23.2 16.4 21.5 22.3*)
   Exports (share of world exports, including intra-euro area trade) % 24.8 8.8 3.7 12.7
   Exports (share of world exports, excluding intra-euro area trade) % 15.9 10.0 4.3 14.4
   Current account balance % of GDP 2.0 -2.2 0.5 1.9*)
  • Comparing the recent financial crisis in the United States and the euro area with the experience of Japan in the 1990s, ECB Monthly Bulletin, May 2012 ENGLISH
  • Recent developments in the wage drift in the euro area, ECB Monthly Bulletin Box, January 2013 ENGLISH
  • Euro area labour markets and the crisis, 10 October 2012 ENGLISH
  • Competition, productivity and prices in the euro area services sector (Occasional Paper No. 44), by Task Force of the Monetary Policy Committee of the ESCB, 10 April 2006 ENGLISH
  • Indicators of financial integration in the euro area, 30 September 2005 ENGLISH
  • Inflation differentials in the euro area: potential causes and policy implications, 30 September 2003 ENGLISH
  • Structural factors in the EU housing markets, 28 March 2003 ENGLISH
  • Report on financial structures, 12 October 2002 ENGLISH Statistical annex ENGLISH
  • Price effects of regulatory reform in selected network industries, 24 March 2001 ENGLISH
  •  
Key real economy characteristics of the euro area and other major economic areas in 2014

Sources: For the euro area: ECB, Eurostat, national data and ECB calculations; for the Unites States, Japan and China: BIS, IMF, OECD, Reuters and national sources.
*) 2013 figures
Notes:
1.  Data refer to Euro 19.
2.  Euro data, US and Japan: annual average; China: end of the year data.
3.  Data for US, Japan and China are converted into euro at OECD purchasing power parities (PPPs).
4.  Ratio of the labour force to the working age population (aged 15 to 64). US: the proportion of the civilian non-institutional population (aged 16 to 64) either at work or actively seeking work. Annual average.
5.  Ratio of persons employed to the working age population (aged 15 to 64). US: the proportion of the civilian non-institutional population (aged 16 to 64) at work. Annual average.
6.  General government data for China are not directly comparable with the other major economic areas.
7.  General government debt consists of deposits, debt securities and loans outstanding at nominal value and is consolidated within the general government sector. Chinese data follow a different methodology and are not directly comparable. Year-end.
8.  European definition also for US and JP.
9.  Euro area: based on extra-euro area transactions.

  Unit Euro area 1  United States Japan China
Population 2  millions 339.4 319.2 127.1 1,360.7*)
GDP (share of world GDP in PPP) % 12.2 16.1 4.4 16.3
GDP per capita  3  € thousands 29.8 42.1 28.2*) 9.2*)
Value added by economic activity          
   Agriculture, fishing, forestry % of total 1.6 1.2 1.2*) 10.0*)
   Industry (including constructions) % of total 24.5 18.4 24.5*) 43.9*)
   Services (including non-market services) % of total 73.8 80.4 74.3*) 46.1*)
Unemployment rate (share of the labour force) % 11.6 6.2 3.6 4.1*)
Labour force participation rate  4  % 72.3 72.7 75.5 -
Employment rate 5  % 63.8 68.1 72.8 -
General government 6           
   Surplus (+) or deficit (-) % of GDP -2.4 -5.6*) -8.5*) -1.1
   Gross debt  7  % of GDP 92.0 96.0 222.0 41.1
   Revenue % of GDP 46.5 33.1*) 33.9*) 28.5
     of which direct taxes % of GDP 12.5 12.6*) 8.7*) 5.0
     of which indirect taxes % of GDP 13.3 6.9*) 8.6*) 13.7
     of which social contributions % of GDP 15.5 6.6*) 13.0*) -
   Expenditure 8  % of GDP 48.7 38.7*) 42.3*) 29.6
     of which final consumption % of GDP 21.1 15.2*) 20.6*) -
     of which social payments % of GDP 24.0 14.3*) 22.8*) -
External 9           
   Exports of goods % of GDP 19.4 9.4 15.2 22.5*)
   Exports of goods and services % of GDP 26.3 13.5 18.7 24.8*)
   Import of goods % of GDP 17.0 13.7 17.3 18.8*)
   Import of goods and services % of GDP 23.2 16.4 21.5 22.3*)
   Exports (share of world exports, including intra-euro area trade) % 24.8 8.8 3.7 12.7
   Exports (share of world exports, excluding intra-euro area trade) % 15.9 10.0 4.3 14.4
   Current account balance % of GDP 2.0 -2.2 0.5 1.9*)