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Top Countries by GDP and Economic Components (1970-2017)

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Countries by GDP and Economic Components (1970-2017)

While looking at the top countries by GDP is a useful big picture measure, it can also be informative to look at the components that make up an economy as well.

Examining a country’s economic building blocks can tell us a lot about what stage of development the country is in, and where competitive advantages may exist.

Analyzing GDP by Sector

Today’s “horse race” bar chart, by Number Story, is an entertaining historical look at the ranking of top countries by GDP, including the parts that make up the whole.

Here is the latest data as of 2018, as well as the largest sector according to data from the United Nations’ industry classification database:

RankCountryGDP (2018)Top Sector (% of total)2nd Largest Sector (% of total)
1๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States$20.6TOther (55%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (15%)
2๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China$13.6TOther (36%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (33%)
3๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan$4.9TOther (43%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (23%)
4๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany$3.6TOther (48%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (25%)
5๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง UK$2.5TOther (55%)Retail/Restaurant/Hotels (14%)
6๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India$2.5TOther (36%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (22%)
7๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France$2.5TOther (56%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (13%)
8๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy$1.9TOther (49%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (20%)
9๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil$1.6TOther (50%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (16%)
10๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada$1.6TOther (52%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (18%)
11๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea$1.6TOther (42%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (31%)
12๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia$1.5TOther (36%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (28%)
13๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia$1.4TOther (53%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (17%)
14๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain$1.3TOther (47%)Retail/Restaurant/Hotels (19%)
15๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico$1.2TOther (34%)Mining/Manufacturing/Utilities (24%)

Why are “Other Activities” so dominant in this breakdown?

It’s because of the way GDP that components are classified as data in the UN industry classification system, which is laid out below:

  1. Agriculture, hunting, forestry, fishing (ISIC A-B)
  2. Mining, manufacturing, utilities (ISIC C-E)
  3. Construction (ISIC F)
  4. Wholesale, retail trade, restaurants and hotels (ISIC G-H)
  5. Transport, storage and communication (ISIC I)
  6. Other activities, such as finance, healthcare, real estate, and tech (ISIC J-P)

Although agriculture, construction, or manufacturing have been a bedrock for economies in the past, developed countries skew towards adding economic value in different ways today.

Given that finance, government spending (healthcare, education, defense, etc.) and technology โ€” all important modern industries โ€” are included in “Other”, this makes the possibly outdated classification the biggest (and least useful) category to examine here.

Nevertheless, there is still information we can glean from this animated breakdown of GDP, spanning a period of almost 50 years.

A More Granular Look at GDP

In the past, we’ve shown you high level visualizations that break down the world’s $86 trillion GDP by country, or even projections on the largest countries by GDP in 2030 in PPP terms.

However, the animated bar chart shows something more granular that is compelling in its own right. By observing the evolution of countries’ economic components over time, some interesting observations emerge that would normally be lost in the big picture.

Japan’s Manufacturing Boom

At points during Japan’s heyday of growth during the 1980’s, manufacturing comprised nearly 30% of economic activity. By the mid-90s, this single segment of Japan’s economy was so valuable that, on its own, it would’ve placed fifth in the global ranking.

America Leading the Pack

While other countries switch positions, reordering as economies boom and bust, the U.S. has handily remained in top position.

Japan was the country that narrowed the gap between the first and second spot the most, though the country’s Lost Decade in the 1990s cut that ascension short.

During the years between 1970 and 2017, the United States was at its most dominant in 2006 when its GDP was triple the size of Japan’s. Of course, in recent years China has narrowed the gap considerably.

A Star Rising in the East

As one would expect, the building blocks of China’s economy looked very different in the 1970s than today.

The communist systems of the USSR and China are both easy to spot in the visualization. Agriculture played an outsized role, and industries like finance, real estate, and retail were understated compared to the profiles of countries that operated under a capitalist system.

In 1980, as the first Special Economic Zones were being created, three-quarters of China’s economy was based on agriculture, resource extraction, and manufacturing. Even as recently as the early ’90s, China wasn’t in the top 10 despite being the world’s most populous country.

Of course, that situation changed drastically over the next two decades. By the dawn of the 21st century, China ranked fifth in the world, and a decade later, China surpassed Japan to become the second largest economy globally.

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Mapped: The World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets in 2024

See which housing markets are considered ‘impossibly unaffordable’ according to their median price-to-income ratio.

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The World’s Least Affordable Housing Markets in 2024

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Many cities around the world have become very expensive to buy a home in, but which ones are the absolute most unattainable?

In this graphic, we highlight a number of housing markets that are deemed to be “impossibly unaffordable” in 2024, ranked by their median price-to-income ratio.

This data comes from the Demographia International Housing Affordability Report, which is produced by the Chapman University Center for Demographics and Policy.

Data and Key Takeaway

The median price-to-income ratio compares median house price to median household income within each market. A higher ratio (higher prices relative to incomes) means a city is less affordable.

See the following table for all of the data we used to create this graphic. Note that this analysis covers 94 markets across eight countries: Australia, Canada, China, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

RankMetropolitan MarketCountryMedian price-to-income
ratio
1Hong Kong (SAR)๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China16.7
2Sydney๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia13.8
3Vancouver๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada12.3
4San Jose๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.11.9
5Los Angeles๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.10.9
6Honolulu๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.10.5
7Melbourne๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia9.8
8San Francisco๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.9.7
9Adelaide๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia9.7
10San Diego๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.9.5
11Toronto๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada9.3
12Auckland๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand8.2

According to the Demographia report, cities with a median price-to-income ratio of over 9.0 are considered โ€œimpossibly unaffordableโ€.

We can see that the top city in this ranking, Hong Kong, has a ratio of 16.7. This means that the median price of a home is 16.7 times greater than the median income.

Which Cities are More Affordable?

On the flipside, here are the top 12 most affordable cities that were analyzed in the Demographia report.

RankMetropolitan MarketCountryMedian price-to-income
ratio
1Pittsburgh๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.3.1
2Rochester๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.3.4
2St. Louis๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.3.4
4Cleveland๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.3.5
5Edmonton๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada3.6
5Buffalo๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.3.6
5Detroit๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.3.6
5Oklahoma City๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.3.6
9Cincinnati๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.3.7
9Louisville๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.3.7
11Singapore๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore3.8
12Blackpool & Lancashire๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง U.K.3.9

Cities with a median price-to-income ratio of less than 3.0 are considered “affordable”, while those between 3.1 and 4.0 are considered “moderately unaffordable”.

See More Real Estate Content From Visual Capitalist

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Ranked: The Most Valuable Housing Markets in America.

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