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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.

Key real economy characteristics of the euro area and other major economic areas in 2019

Sources: For the euro area: ECB, Eurostat, national data and ECB calculations; for the United States, Japan and China: BIS, IMF, OECD, Reuters, World Bank and national sources.
*) 2018 figures
**) 2017 figures
Notes:
1.  Euro data, US and Japan: annual average; China: end of the year data.
2.  Data for US, Japan and China are converted into euro at OECD purchasing power parities (PPPs).
3.  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.
4.  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.
5.  General government data for China are not directly comparable with the other major economic areas.
6.  General government debt consists of deposits, debt securities and loans outstanding at nominal value and is consolidated within the general government sector, except for Japan and China. In addition, Chinese data follow a different methodology and are not directly comparable. Year-end.
7.  European definition also for US and JP.
8.  Euro area: based on extra-euro area transactions.

  Unit Euro area United States Japan China
Population 1  millions 342.7 328.5 126.1 1,400.1
GDP (share of world GDP in PPP) % 11.6*) 15.1*) 4.0*) 18.6*)
GDP per capita  2  € thousands 34.8 46.1 30.6 13.0*)
Value added by economic activity          
   Agriculture, fishing, forestry % of total 1.7 0.9*) 1.2*) 7.4
   Industry (including constructions) % of total 24.6 19.3*) 29.2*) 39.2
   Services (including non-market services) % of total 73.7 79.8*) 69.6*) 53.4
Unemployment rate (share of the labour force) % 7.6 3.7 2.4 3.8*)
Labour force participation rate  3  % 73.6 74.1 79.7 -
Employment rate 4  % 68.0 71.4 77.7 -
General government 5           
   Surplus (+) or deficit (-) % of GDP -0.6 -6.6 -2.3*) -6.3
   Gross debt  6  % of GDP 84.0 99.8 225.3 52.6
   Revenue % of GDP 46.4 31.5 36.5*) 27.7
     of which direct taxes % of GDP 12.9 11.7 10.4*) -
     of which indirect taxes % of GDP 13.1 7.0 8.4*) -
     of which net social contributions % of GDP 15.1 6.6 13.3*) -
   Expenditure 7  % of GDP 47.1 38.1 38.8*) 34.0
     of which final consumption % of GDP 20.6 14.0 19.8*) -
     of which social benefits % of GDP 22.5 14.5 12.5*) -
External 8           
   Exports of goods % of GDP 20.2 7.7 13.5 16.7
   Exports of goods and services % of GDP 28.6 11.8 17.6 18.4
   Import of goods % of GDP 17.5 11.7 13.5 13.8
   Import of goods and services % of GDP 25.3 14.5 17.7 17.3
   Exports (share of world exports, including intra-euro area trade) % 25.8 8.8 3.8 13.3
   Exports (share of world exports, excluding intra-euro area trade) % 15.9 9.9 4.3 15.1
   Current account balance % of GDP 2.3 -2.2 3.4 1.0
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