Early this week, I posted a little graph of the economic history of the world, after 1 AD, from a research letter written by Michael Cembalest, chairman of market and investment strategy at JP Morgan. On Wednesday, I posted follow-up graphs to track GDP/capita -- a rough proxy for income, and even productivity -- through the last 2000 years. Here's the last installment.
You can call the graph below an "economic history of the world since Jesus." I've graphed each major power or region's share of world GDP since the year 1 AD (the data is in a PDF here). There is no data between 1 and 1000 AD, so I've put a little space there. The data does not provide for a clean X-axis -- note the differences between years -- but it provides a good rough picture of the last 2000 years and a nice illustration of the breakaway wealth of the U.S.
The first question I had when I first graphed the data is, How do India and China account for between 50% and 60% of the world economy for the first 1500 years AD? Until about 1800 when the Industrial Revolution sent productivity skyrocketing at an unprecedented pace, income growth was slow and and relatively even around the world. As a result, the regions with the biggest economies were basically just the regions with the biggest populations.