Shrinking, but Still Big: America's Slice of the Global Economic Pie
In 1960, the U.S. accounted for 40% of global economic output. This is where we're at today.
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
The American slice of the global GDP pie is shrinking. In 1960; U.S. GDP represented 40% of the global total. By 2014, that share had shrunk to 22%. The decline is relative — America's economy is much larger now than half a century ago, but other countries have grown much faster. Most notably China, the economy of which trebled over the same period, from close to 5% back then to around 15% now. And, as shown by this recent Voronoi diagram (1), first published in July 2015, the American slice is still by far the biggest one.
Of course, there are several ways to measure GDP. One could argue that China's share should be bigger by now, or that it has already overtaken the U.S. It certainly has for industrial output — the middle of the three shades contained within each slide. The U.S. is overwhelmingly a service-based economy (darker shade), with a relatively small contribution by the agricultural sector (lighter shade).
But the point of this cartogram is that it offers the advantage of an at-a-glance overview that is typical for maps, and lacking in mere lists. Here, for comparison, is the ranking of the 38 economies shown on this map:
The map shows even more clearly than the above list how the economic power of the European Union, listed here as separate member states, adds up. It's immediately apparent that the German, British, French, and Italian slices together are bigger than Japan's, and even China's. In fact, those four alone amount to 15.8 percent. Add the other eight member states on the list, and the E.U. slice (22.41 percent) is almost as big as the U.S. one. Since there are 16 more European Union members hidden in the Rest of the World slice (8.80 percent), the European Union's share of this diagram is probably slightly bigger than the U.S. one.
Of course, Brexit will weaken the overall strength of the EU - and of the U.K. itself. In fact, the mere decision of leaving the E.U. has led to a decline in the value of the British pound that has caused Britain to slip one place in the global economic rankings as listed above, with France overtaking it to assume fifth place.
Strange Maps #747
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(1) For more Voronoi joy, see #657.
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