If 50% of the total number of students in the class are male, that means that 50 out of every 100 students are male. If there are 500 students, then 250 of them are male.
To calculate a percentage of a percentage, convert both percentages to fractions of 100, or to decimals, and multiply them. For example, 50% of 40% is:
Whenever communicating about a percentage, it is important to specify what it is relative to (i.e., what is the total that corresponds to 100%). The following problem illustrates this point.In a certain college 60% of all students are female, and 10% of all students are computer science majors. If 5% of female students are computer science majors, what percentage of computer science majors are female?
This example is closely related to the concept of conditional probability.
Due to inconsistent usage, it is not always clear from the context what a percentage is relative to. When speaking of a "10% rise" or a "10% fall" in a quantity, the usual interpretation is that this is relative to the initial value of that quantity. For example, if an item is initially priced at $200 and the price rises 10% (an increase of $20), the new price will be $220. Note that this final price is 110% of the initial price (100% + 10% = 110%).
As shown above, percent changes can be applied in any order and have the same effect.
In financial markets, it is common to refer to an increase of one percentage point (e.g. from 3% per annum to 4% per annum) as an increase of "100 basis points".