Economic Definition of rate of return. Defined.
Offline Version: PDF
Term rate of return Definition: The ratio of the additional annual income or profit generated by an investment to the cost of the investment. Here's a simple example, although the calculations are usually a great deal more involved for actual investments. If the cost of constructing a new factory is $10 million and it gives you an extra $1 million in profit each year, then its rate of return is 10 percent.