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Abstract

This article describes the dynamics of the global economy’s centre of gravity, the average location of economic activity across geographies on Earth. The calculations here take into account all the GDP produced on this planet. The article finds that in 1980 the global economy’s centre of gravity was mid-Atlantic. By 2008, from the continuing rise of China and the rest of East Asia, that centre of gravity had drifted to a location east of Helsinki and Bucharest. Extrapolating growth in almost 700 locations across Earth, this article projects the world’s economic centre of gravity to locate by 2050 literally between India and China. Observed from Earth’s surface, that economic centre of gravity will shift from its 1980 location 9,300 km or 1.5 times the radius of the planet.

Policy Implications

  •  If soft power mirrors but lags economic power, then the source for global and political influence will be similarly gradually shifting east over the next 50–100 years.
  •  Policy formulation for the entire global economy, and global governance more generally, will no longer be the domain of the last century’s rich countries but instead will require more inclusive engagement of the east.
  •  Many global policy questions will remain the same, e.g. promoting growth in the world economy, but others might change in character, e.g. appropriate political and military intervention.