10 Countries Do Not Have 90% of World GDP

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Ryan Noonan

Ryan Noonan is an economist with a small federal agency. Fields in which he considers himself reasonably well-informed: literature, college athletics, video games, food and beverage, the Supreme Court. Fields in which he considers himself an expert: none. He can be found on the Twitter or reached by email.

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48 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    How many countries does it take to get to 90% of the world’s GDP?Report

    • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

      Assuming my Excel-fu is not weak (it is not), it looks like it takes 42 countries. The 42nd country is Bangladesh. The 41st, if you’re curious, is Switzerland.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Huh. That’s much better than I thought. I thought the number would be in the mid-high 20’s.Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

          It takes 17 countries to get to 75%. After that, we’re basically at countries that each add less than 1% to world GDP. So your instinct is still pretty close to correct.Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko says:

            I come very close to agreeing with that despite the different methodology and data set than Ryan comments on — I get USA, PRC, India, Japan, Germany, Russia, Brazil, UK, France, Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Canada, Indonesia, Turkey, Australia, and Taiwan (in that order) accounting for 75% of GDP. That’s 18 countries rather than 17 but the general point remains functionally the same.

            (#19 is Poland, BTW. Don’t forget Poland.)Report

            • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

              As a note: the major difference in data is that Maddison’s dataset uses 2008 numbers, while the CIA has 2011 estimates. Given CAGR, 3 years is more than enough time to shift some things around.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The data that both of you guys dug up is an inequality forum post in itself.

                What is the responsibility of these 17/18 countries toward the rest of them? Are these responsibilities being met? What would meeting these responsibilities actually look like?

                And so on.

                Next year.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

                It’s worth noting that income inequality between individuals is not directly comparable to GDP inequality between countries because of population differences. For example, China and India rank #2 and #3 respectively in terms of PPP-adjusted GDP, but they’re not particularly wealthy countries on a per-capita basis; they just have over a billion people each.Report

              • Avatar Simon K says:

                Also, poorer countries have far larger portions of the economy not accounted for in the GDP statistics. Not only because of black markets – which are large in some places – but also because peasant farmers often buy and/or sell almost nothing while producing enough to feed and cloth themselves.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                *nods* let 40 states out of the Union secede, and our GDP would spike dramatically.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                In no way is that true. Unless you mean per capita GDP.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                Ryan,
                nonsense. GDP would rise as exports would rise. We’d export a ton to the 40 ct. union, and thus gain a ton of GDP.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                Show your work. How does the US export more to the 40 states that secede than their economies generate? There is an accounting identity in here somewhere that you are violating pretty spectacularly.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi says:

                ‘nother thing: we can expect that the 40 state union would probably have lower governmental spending, due both to having less money and political considerations. If, as is probable, the 10 state union pushed most of the money it gave to the other 40 states into governmental spending… you’re also looking at a rise in gdp.Report

              • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

                You’re moving money from X to G. The net change in Y is zero.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Are you using different data than me, Ryan? Or did you count both the EU and its component nations? What mistake did I make to get a result so different than yours?Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      It’s the CIA World Factbook to the rescue! According to the CIA, the United States of America accounts for about 19% of total GDP for the entire world.

      So the answer to your question is “Every nation on Earth other than the U.S.A. “Report

      • Avatar wardsmith says:

        100-19=81% so the 90% answer is: “Every nation on earth including the USA but not including whoever is 10%”. 😉

        BTW a timely article in the Economist on this same graphic is available hereReport

  2. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    As a guy who’s not fully up to sped on international economicy thingies, I have to ask – how do you measure countries comparative wealth? How much is based on comparative GDP, gold reserves, available natural resources, human capital, etc.?Report

    • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

      Gold reserves are a neglible part of national wealth. Foreign currency reserves are a better indicator, in which case the PRC ranks first with 3.5 trillion. Japan has the next highest with about 1.3 trillion USD. The highest gold reserve by comparison is the US with about 480 billion.Report

      • Avatar Simon K says:

        That’s just financial assets though, which doesn’t mean anything much. If you were really looking at national wealth in the sense of “ability to consume” that would be meaningful from a welfare economics point of view, you’d have to use some kind of total valuation of the entire capital stock, which would be very hard, since lots of it is intangible or illiquid and hard to value. In reality, PPP adjusted GDP is probably as good as it gets.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        wait till August! 😉Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      You usually don’t. It’s not something I’ve ever seen done before.Report

  3. Avatar Scott says:

    Apparently western countries have too much stuff already according to this UN flunky. UN Official: Western Nations ‘Don’t Need More Cars, More TV’

    http://politics.kfyi.com/cc-common/mainheadlines3.html?feed=104707&article=10212164Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

      Helen Clark is the ex-PM of NZ, and was unemployable there. We can only hope she can do for the UN what she did for her Labour Party.

      http://curiablog.wordpress.com/category/nz-political-party-polls/Report

      • Avatar James K says:

        I’m not a big fan of Clark, but I should point out that she managed to unify the New Zealand Labour party for more than a decade, which implies no small degree of political skill.

        Also, based on the article Scott linked, I’m not so sure she’s saying “rich countries should be poorer”. It sounds more like she’s saying that “economic growth is more important for poor countries than for rich ones”, which I don’t find especially objectionable.Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

          Yeah, your read seems right to me. She certainly isn’t saying the West should give up its cars and TVs.

          It’s especially odd to see this complaint from conservatives, who constantly assure us that the poor don’t have it so bad in the USA. And I don’t say this to poke fun; as Jason pointed out in a couple recent posts, they’re not wrong! The American poor, even if I think they should be still better off, are waaaaay richer than most of the rest of the world’s (and history’s!) poor.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

          I was having a little fun with Helen Clark, JamesK, but she did ride some good times while in office, even her own party doesn’t speak well of her now she’s gone, Labour now slurps hind teat, and she has become an expatriate UN scold, no doubt with a sweet salary, hi-rise NY apt and limo service.

          Were she to have stayed in Mother NZ, she’d actually be working for a living and shlepping her own groceries from the boot to the elevator, if she had either one. You people are not big on parasites, which is why you’re so cool.Report

  4. Avatar Michael says:

    Has anyone considered the X-axis and the jump in years? Yikes.Report

    • Avatar James K says:

      Yeah, that’s not good graph design.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      I don’t really see a problem with that. A logarithmic scale on the x-axis is fine for many long-term historical data series where changes are much more rapid in modern times than in the past. This isn’t really a proper logarithmic scale, but it’s close enough, and gets the point across.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        As veteran players of the Civilization games know, industrialization dramatically shifts up the delta on productivity, so the very nice graphs you get at the end of the game compress the objective “time” significantly to increase the historical verisimlitude (in part because productivity gains within the game itself are closer to linear if all game turns are considered equal spans of time).

        So maybe the X-axis time compression here is intended to reflect reality mirrored through gaming attempting to mirror reality.Report

    • Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

      I’m with Brandon here. I actually think the x-axis is making a decent point, which is that the notion of productivity (and productivity gains) is a verrrrrry modern thing.Report

      • Avatar Michael says:

        Understandably. However, if you take a 100 year gap – as the map does a few times – from 1900 to 2000, then all of the points look unmoved, despite huge gains and losses within that time. Who is to say that the economy did not twist, turn, and topple over itself in the 1000 year gap from the 0 point and the 1000 point?

        Perhaps I am being nit-picky, but it is just poor chart design (among the several other flaws pointed out in the article).Report