The graphic above displays the change in regional and country GDP as a fraction of global GDP from the period 1820 through 2012. The picture tells a story of the rise of ‘the west’ during the industrial revolution and the corresponding fall of the Asian world powers from 1820 through the mid 1900’s. Then following economic reforms in the late 1900’s, Asian giants re-emerging and gaining market share of global GDP corresponding with a fall by western powers.
In 1820, China and India together made up 49% of world GDP, but by the late 1970’s this figure had fallen to less than 5% combined. That is, China and India – countries that make up 37% of the world population, only accounted for 5% of world GDP. Since that time, China and India have had drastic economic growth and now account for 21% of global GDP.
The graphic also tells the tale of the United States emerging as a global super power. From 2% of global GDP in 1820 to a peak of 36% following WWII. In fact, the 36% of world GDP figure is the highest mark by any country in history – All this accomplished by a country with only 5% of world population. The stagnate economic growth since the 1970’s is comparable to Europe, although not quite as drastic. The US and Europe still account for 35% of world GDP combined.