A Global Compass for the Great Divergence: Emissions vs. Production Centers of Gravity 1820-2008

32 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2019

See all articles by Caspar Sauter

Caspar Sauter

UBS AG

Jean-Marie Grether

University of Neuchatel - Institute for Economic and Regional Research (IRER)

Nicole A. Mathys

University of Neuchatel - Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences; Federal Office for Spatial Development

Date Written: 2019

Abstract

We construct the world’s centers of gravity for human population, GDP and CO2 emissions by taking the best out of five recognized data sources covering the last two centuries. On the basis of a novel distorsion-free representation of these centers of gravity, we find a radical Western shift of GDP and CO2 emissions centers in the 19th century, in sharp contrast with the stability of the demographic center of gravity. Both GDP and emissions trends are reversed in the first half of the 20th century, after World War I for CO2 emissions, after World War II for GDP. Since then, both centers are moving eastward at an accelerating speed. These patterns are perfectly consistent with the lead of Western countries starting the industrial revolution, the gradual replacement of coal by oil and gas as alternative sources of energy, and the progressive catch up of Asian countries in the recent past.

Keywords: center of gravity, growth, CO2 emissions, GDP, population, great divergence

JEL Classification: Q560, Q590

Suggested Citation

Sauter, Caspar and Grether, Jean-Marie and Mathys, Nicole Andréa, A Global Compass for the Great Divergence: Emissions vs. Production Centers of Gravity 1820-2008 (2019). CESifo Working Paper No. 7557. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3357134

Caspar Sauter (Contact Author)

UBS AG ( email )

Zurich, CH-8098
Switzerland

Jean-Marie Grether

University of Neuchatel - Institute for Economic and Regional Research (IRER) ( email )

Pierre-a-Mazel 7
Neuchatel, CH-2000
Switzerland
+41 32 718 13 56 (Phone)
+41 32 718 14 01 (Fax)

Nicole Andréa Mathys

University of Neuchatel - Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences ( email )

Neuchatel, 2000
Switzerland

Federal Office for Spatial Development ( email )

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