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A global compass for the great divergence: emissions vs. production centers of gravity 1820-2008

Author

Listed:
  • Caspar Sauter
  • Jean-Marie Grether
  • Nicole A. Mathys

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Caspar Sauter & Jean-Marie Grether & Nicole A. Mathys, 2019. "A global compass for the great divergence: emissions vs. production centers of gravity 1820-2008," CESifo Working Paper Series 7557, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7557
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp7557.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Baier, Scott L. & Bergstrand, Jeffrey H., 2009. "Bonus vetus OLS: A simple method for approximating international trade-cost effects using the gravity equation," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 77-85, February.
    2. Reynaud, Julien & Vauday, Julien, 2009. "Geopolitics and international organizations: An empirical study on IMF facilities," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 139-162, May.
    3. Studer,Roman, 2017. "The Great Divergence Reconsidered," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107679979.
    4. Mattoo, Aaditya & Subramanian, Arvind, 2012. "Equity in Climate Change: An Analytical Review," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1083-1097.
    5. Sauter, Caspar & Grether, Jean-Marie & Mathys, Nicole A., 2016. "Geographical spread of global emissions: Within-country inequalities are large and increasing," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 138-149.
    6. Lindmark, Magnus, 2004. "Patterns of historical CO2 intensity transitions among high and low-income countries," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 426-447, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    center of gravity; growth; CO2 emissions; GDP; population; great divergence;

    JEL classification:

    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • Q59 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Other

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