Geo-Economics and Politics

35 years of the global economy in one video

A man rides an escalator near Shanghai Tower.

Going up: Asia has overtaken Europe as a contributor to global GDP. Image:  REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Emma Luxton
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Economic liberalisation, globalisation and the rise of the multinational corporation have played their part in the changing face of the global economy since 1980. has put together a Voronoi diagram showing the change in GDP of the world’s largest countries from 1980 to 2015. Using data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the diagram shows how the economies of these countries have changed during this time period.

The size of countries and regions are shown as relative to the size of their economies in terms of nominal GDP. You can view the full video here.



The biggest change over the past 35 years is the growth of Asia. In 1980, Europe accounted for around 32% of global GDP, and Asia just 20%. By 2012 this pattern had reversed, with Asia contributing a larger percentage than Europe.

Within Asia, the biggest change, not surprisingly, is the growth of China’s economy, from 2.8% of global GDP in 1980 to 13.4% in 2014, making it the second-largest economy in the world. Japan saw a decline from its peak of 17.6% in 1994 to 6% in 2015.

The US has been on an economic roller-coaster ride. Until 1985 it grew in relative terms, then entered a decline which lasted until 1995. It then picked up again, peaking in 2002 and then contracting until 2009. Since then it has been relatively stable and accounts for around 22% of global GDP, making it the world’s largest economy.

Economic trends in the United States have had an impact on the entire global economy. This can be seen during a period of rising interest rates from 1986-1989 and the oil price shock in 1990 that slowed economic growth. 2001 put an end to a decade of economic growth following the 9/11 attacks in the US.

The financial crisis that lasted from 2007 to 2009 also sent shock-waves across the world. The US and European economies began to slow while emerging economies, predominantly in Asia, continued to grow.

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