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On the Economics of Regional Powers: Comparing China, India, Brazil, and South Africa


  • Robert Kappel



As the conception of and debates on regional powers have been led by political science, this pa-per aims to contribute to the discussion from an economics perspective. Based on the discussion of different concepts of economic power—such as those of Schumpeter, Perroux, Predöhl, or Kindleberger—concepts of technological leadership, and the global value chain approaches, the paper develops a research framework for the economics of regional powers. This framework is then tested using descriptive statistics as well as regressions analysis, with a focus on the four regional powers Brazil, China, India, and South Africa. As economic power is relational, the re-lationship of regional powers to other nations in the region is analyzed. According to the findings, only limited statements on the economics of regional powers are possible: a regional power can be described as an economy with a relatively large population and land area which plays a dominant role in trade within the region and in the regional governance. The regional power develops its technological capacities, and its businesses act regionally and globally with increasing strength.

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Kappel, 2010. "On the Economics of Regional Powers: Comparing China, India, Brazil, and South Africa," GIGA Working Paper Series 145, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:145

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sebastian Krapohl & Katharina L. Meissner & Johannes Muntschick, 2014. "Regional Powers as Leaders or Rambos? The Ambivalent Behaviour of Brazil and South Africa in Regional Economic Integration," Journal of Common Market Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 879-895, July.
    2. Robert Kappel, 2010. "Verschiebung der globalen Machtverhältnisse durch den Aufstieg von Regionalen Führungsmächten: China, Indien, Brasilien und Südafrika," GIGA Working Paper Series 146, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies.

    More about this item


    Brazil; China; economic geography; economic leadership; economic power; growth; India; investment; public goods; regional powers; regression analysis; South Africa; technological change; value chain; trade.;

    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B1 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925
    • B29 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Other
    • C01 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - General - - - Econometrics
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • F59 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Other

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