Visualizing The World’s Largest Economies (1970-2020)
Global GDP has grown massively over the last 50 years, but not all countries experienced this economic growth equally.
In 1970, the world’s nominal GDP was just $3.4 trillion. Fast forward a few decades and it had reached $85.3 trillion by 2020. And thanks to shifting dynamics, such as industrialization and the rise and fall of political regimes, the world’s largest economies driving this global growth have changed over time.
This slideshow using graphics from Ruben Berge Mathisen show the distribution of global GDP among countries in 1970, 1995, and 2020.
Using data from the United Nations, Mathisen collected nominal GDP in U.S. dollars for each country. He then determined each country’s GDP as a share of global GDP and sized each graphic’s bubbles accordingly.
The bubbles were placed according to country latitude and longitude coordinates, but Mathisen programmed the bubbles so that they wouldn’t overlap with each other. For this reason, some countries are slightly displaced from their exact locations on a map.
1970: USSR as a Major Player
In 1970, the U.S. accounted for the largest share of global GDP, making up nearly one-third of the world economy. The table below shows the top 10 economies in 1970.
|Rank||Country||GDP (1970)||Share of Global GDP|
|#1||🇺🇸 United States||$1.1T||31.4 %|
|#2||☭ USSR||$433B||12.7 %|
|#3||🇩🇪 Germany||$216B||6.3 %|
|#4||🇯🇵 Japan||$213B||6.2 %|
|#5||🇫🇷 France||$148B||4.3 %|
|#6||🇬🇧 UK||$131B||3.8 %|
|#7||🇮🇹 Italy||$113B||3.3 %|
|#8||🇨🇳 China||$93B||2.7 %|
|#9||🇨🇦 Canada||$89B||2.6 %|
|#10||🇮🇳 India||$62B||1.8 %|
Then a global superpower, the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) came in second place on the list of the world’s largest economies.
In the years leading up to 1970, the USSR had seen impressive GDP growth largely due to adopting Western technologies that increased productivity. However, the USSR’s economy began to stagnate in the ‘70s, and eventually collapsed in 1991.
On the other side, Germany (including both West and East Germany) was the third-largest economy in 1970 after rising from economic ruin following World War II. West Germany’s “Economic Miracle” is largely credited to the introduction of a new currency to replace the Riechsmark, large tax cuts brought in to spur investment, and the removal of price controls.
1995: Japan Begins to Slow Down
By 1995, the U.S. still held the top spot on the world’s largest economies list, but the country’s share of global GDP had shrunk.
|Rank||Country/Area||GDP (1995)||Share of Global GDP|
|#1||🇺🇸 United States||$7.6T||24.4 %|
|#2||🇯🇵 Japan||$5.5T||17.7 %|
|#3||🇩🇪 Germany||$2.6T||8.3 %|
|#4||🇫🇷 France||$1.6T||5.1 %|
|#5||🇬🇧 UK||$1.3T||4.3 %|
|#6||🇮🇹 Italy||$1.2T||3.8 %|
|#7||🇧🇷 Brazil||$778B||2.5 %|
|#8||🇨🇳 China||$734B||2.4 %|
|#9||🇪🇸 Spain||$615B||2.0 %|
|#10||🇨🇦 Canada||$606B||1.9 %|
Meanwhile, Japan had leapfrogged into second place and nearly tripled its share of the global economy compared to 1970. A number of factors played into Japan’s economic success:
- Large business groups known as keiretsu used their connections to undercut rivals
- Fierce competition between companies encouraged innovation
- Tax breaks and cheap credit stimulated investment
- The well-educated workforce was willing to work extremely long hours
But around 1990, the country’s economy had actually begun to slow down. Japan’s decreasing labor force participation rate and diminishing returns from higher education both could have played a role.
2020: The World’s Largest Economies Shift Again
In 2020, the United States continued to hold onto the number one spot among the world’s largest economies. However, Japan’s slowdown created a rare opportunity for a new powerhouse to emerge: China.
|Rank||Country/Area||GDP (2020)||Share of Global GDP|
|#1||🇺🇸 United States||$20.9T||24.5 %|
|#2||🇨🇳 China||$14.7T||17.3 %|
|#3||🇯🇵 Japan||$5.1T||5.9 %|
|#4||🇩🇪 Germany||$3.8T||4.5 %|
|#5||🇬🇧 UK||$2.8T||3.2 %|
|#6||🇮🇳 India||$2.7T||3.1 %|
|#7||🇫🇷 France||$2.6T||3.1 %|
|#8||🇮🇹 Italy||$1.9T||2.2 %|
|#9||🇨🇦 Canada||$1.6T||1.9 %|
|#10||🇰🇷 South Korea||$1.6T||1.9 %|
China’s economy saw incredible growth following economic reforms in 1978. The reforms encouraged the formation of private businesses, liberalized foreign trade and investment, relaxed state control over some prices, and invested in industrial production and the education of its workforce. With profit incentives introduced to private businesses, productivity increased.
China was also positioned as a cheap manufacturing hub for multinational corporations. Since rising into contention, the country has become the world’s largest exporter.
India held the title of the sixth largest economy in 2020. Similar to China, the country’s growth came from relaxed economic restrictions, and it has seen particularly strong growth within the service sector, including telecommunications, IT, and software.
With dynamics shifting, which countries will be on the leaderboard in another 25 years?
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Visualizing the Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs in 2023
Some jobs need a degree, while others don’t. Here are the top 20 most sought-after entry level jobs with and without a degree.
The Most Sought-After Entry Level Jobs of 2023
In the fast-paced realm of job hunting, staying ahead of the curve is crucial. And if you are an entry-level job applicant, the pressure is a notch higher.
New entrants in any job market today compete with groundbreaking technology like ChatGPT in addition to their peers. In the United States, these applicants have to also wade through an uncertain labor market, inflation, and long lists of job requirements.
Indeed.com has identified the most sought-after entry level positions for applicants both with and without a degree in the U.S., and the year-on-year growth of these job postings.
Most Sought-After Entry-Level Jobs With a Degree
As the U.S. job market recovers from its pandemic slump, some careers are now booming. This in turn has opened up numerous opportunities for entry-level job applicants.
|Rank||Job Title||Average Annual Salary||Change in Postings
|1||Outside Sales Representative||$60,000||+258%|
|8||Network Operations Technician||$85,500||+94%|
|9||Mental Health Manager||$42,000||+93%|
|12||Patient Access Manager||$90,000||+77%|
|14||Lead Generation Specialist||$62,500||+73%|
|16||Pharmaceutical Sales Representative||$74,378||+71%|
|18||Special Events Coordinator||$54,000||+67%|
The demand for sales jobs multiplied this year as customer-facing businesses slowly returned to their pre-pandemic levels.
At the top of this list is the job for an Outside Sales Representative. Paying upwards of $60,000, postings for this job have grown by over 250% in a year, making it the most sought-after position for applicants with a degree.
The healthcare industry has secured its place in the top ranks too. Careers including mental health case managers, speech pathologists, behavioral therapists, and patient access managers dominate the Top 20 list.
Let’s not forget about the tech sector. While entry-level network technicians can earn upwards of $85,000 on average, while IT engineers are paid an entry package of over $90,000.
Most Sought-After Entry-Level Jobs Without a Degree
Nearly 65% of the U.S. working population does not have a four-year degree. However, millions of these workers continue to be highly skilled across professions and have a shot at some of the most sought-after entry level jobs in the country.
|Rank||Job Title||Average Annual Salary||Change in Postings
|2||Auto Body Technician||$82,500||+100%|
|3||Environmental Health and Safety Specialist||$65,000||+100%|
|7||Sheet Metal Mechanic||$62,140||+67%|
|8||Aircraft Maintenance Technician||$57,500||+64%|
|11||Route Sales Representative||$50,000||+51%|
|13||Distribution Center Coordinator||$52,500||+47%|
|14||General Maintenance Technician||$40,650||+46%|
|15||Patient Care Coordinator||$43,152||+44%|
|18||Field Sales Representative||$57,018||+42%|
One example of this job is that of an Inventory Manager. The demand for skilled inventory managers in warehouses and companies post-pandemic has doubled the position’s job share in a year.
One of the highest paying non-degree jobs in this list—Auto Body Technician—can fetch highly-skilled entry-level workers a salary of $82,000 per year.
These jobs don’t seem to require a degree according to Indeed. However, the rising competition for these positions might give the upper edge to applicants with one, especially for jobs on the list such as Business Analyst and Relationship Banker.
Business3 weeks ago
Visualizing the Number of Costco Stores, by Country
Markets2 weeks ago
Charted: Market Volatility at its Lowest Point Since 2020
Culture3 weeks ago
Ranked: Which Countries Drink the Most Beer?
Wealth2 weeks ago
Mapped: The Migration of the World’s Millionaires in 2023
Maps3 weeks ago
Mapped: The Deadliest Earthquakes of the 21st Century
Countries1 week ago
Charted: The World’s Biggest Oil Producers
Energy3 weeks ago
What Electricity Sources Power the World?
Technology1 week ago
Which Companies Own the Most Satellites?