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HIGH SOCIETY

Panama has finally joined the ranks of high-income countries

Reuters/Carlos Jasso
Living the high life.
  • Edmund Heaphy
By Edmund Heaphy

Contributing writer

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

For the first time ever, Panama has been classified as a high-income nation—a country with a gross national income per capita of $12,055 or more—by the World Bank.

The bank, which determines new thresholds for each category every July, also showed that Argentina gained the classification for only the second time since it began grouping countries by income status in 1987.

Meanwhile, Croatia, which became a high-income country for the first time in 2007, has regained its high-income ranking, after it fell off the list last year.

Other countries weren’t so fortunate: the Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, and the Republic of Yemen all fell from the lower-middle income category to the low-income category—the lowest grouping.

CountryOld groupNew group
ArgentinaUpper-middleHigh-income
ArmeniaLower-middleUpper-middle
CroatiaUpper-middleHigh-income
GuatemalaLower-middleUpper-middle
JordanLower-middleUpper-middle
PanamaUpper-middleHigh-income
Syrian Arab RepublicLower-middleLow-income
TajikistanLower-middleLow-income
Republic of YemenLower-middleLow-income

Panama’s economy is mainly based on the services sector, with the Panama Canal, banking-related activities, and the Colón Free Trade Zone being big drivers of growth.

Using the World Bank’s Atlas method, which reduces the impact of exchange rate fluctuations when calculating gross national income, Switzerland tops the list of high-income countries—with more than six times the required income to make the classification. Norway, Luxembourg, and Qatar aren’t far behind.

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