WECG – World’s Economic Centre of Gravity

Danny Quah of the London School of Economics (LSE) recently wrote a paper describing the dynamics of the global economy’s centre of gravity. By economic centre of gravity he refers to the average location of the planet’s economic activity measured by GDP generated across nearly 700 identifiable locations on the Earth’s surface.

In 1980 the WECG was located at a point in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean but by 2008 it had drifted to a location at about the same longitude as Izmir and Minsk, and thus east of Helsinki and Bucharest. Extrapolating growth in the 700 locations is projected by 2050 to locate between India and China. The graphic below shows, in 3 year intervals, the WECG 1980-2007 in black and projections for 2010 – 2049 in red. It is interesting to note how the WECG seems to move horizontally so does this suggest that the north-south divide will remain invariant? In looking at the actual data in Quah’s research, it shows that latitude declines from 66 degrees North to 44 degrees North by 2049. This might seem to imply that the south, like the east, is actually gaining considerable relative economic strength. If you are interested in Quah’s paper you can download it by clicking here.


4 thoughts on “WECG – World’s Economic Centre of Gravity

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  2. Sammler April 6, 2011 / 9:38 pm

    “From 66 degrees north to 44 degrees north”? These numbers are extreme and extremely unrealistic. (66 degrees north is the north coast of Iceland.) Also the motion shown on the graph looks too extreme, and the extrapolation is certainly far too extreme. For the WECG’s longitude to agree with the longitude of the center of India and China, the entire contribution to the west of India would have to be smaller than the China-India difference.


  3. kirk April 7, 2011 / 4:02 am

    A better name for this economic centroid is a ‘locus of economic effect’. Gravity is awesome but physics has already used that name for something else – gravity. There is also a ‘locus of human phenotypes’ which is biomass of humanity balanced on a single point. According to Richard Dawkins there is also a ‘locus of extended phenotypic effect’ which is the mass of all human artifacts centered on a point. Now THAT would have a center of gravity because it is ‘stuff’ – books, the interweb routers and switches and all the ammusement parks and churches…


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