Europe’s Economic Powerhouse Drifts East read a headline in the New York Times last year, referring to the shifting economies not only within the European Union as shown in a series of cartograms on this website, but also in a wider sense. As the NYT states: “Last year [i.e. 2010], the euro area’s share of German exports fell to 41 percent from 43 percent in 2008, while Asia’s share rose to 16 percent from 12 percent, according to Bundesbank figures. During the same period, exports to Asia rose by €28 billion, while exports to the euro area fell by the same amount.” Continue reading
The European economic crisis has been part of some previous maps shown on this website. So far, all of these maps on Europe’s debt were based on national-level data which do not show the full picture of the economic structure of the European countries. A couple of weeks ago EUROSTAT published some more detailed economic data for the GDP output on NUTS 2 level, which allows to understand the subnational variation of economic output. The data only covers data ranging from 1997 to 2008 (so far), but it is the most detailed coherent picture of the shifting economic powers within the EU27 countries in over a decade and draws the picture of the European Union sliding into the global economic crisis.
I looked at the data in a series of maps that view the economic shape of the European Union from different perspectives. The first map displays the GDP distribution in the first year of the financial crisis (2008) and the NUTS2-areas are redrawn according to their total GDP output in that year. The colours indicate the GDP growth rate in that year, showing how well many parts still dealt with the approaching crisis, and as if the crisis followed a geographical path from its US origins, the UK and Irish economies were the first to be severely hit in their economic growth in the year of the Lehman collapse. Only Sweden shows a similar bleak picture, but on a much lower level. It is interesting to see that the initially collapsing banking sector in London is not only affecting the GDP development in the Southeast of the UK, but basically pulls the whole national economy into a downturn:
A map showing the Europe’s government debt is now featured in the “In Focus” section of Political Insight journal (December 2010, Volume 1, Issue 3). The accompanying article written by Danny Dorling and me explains why the UK’s deficit is particularly high.
Here are the bibliographic details:
- Dorling, D. and Hennig, B. D. (2010). In Focus: Government Debt. Political Insight1 (3): 106.
Article online (Wiley)
More debt maps can be found here.
Some recent maps on this website were closely related to the direct or indirect implications that the global downturn had on people’s lives across the globe: Be it the slowed-down but still growing carbon emissions, the poor state of well-being seen from a more sustainable point of view, or the distribution of wealth.
How this all related to each other has recently been commented by Peter Victor in Nature, who argues that “our global economy must operate within planetary limits to promote stability, resilience and wellbeing, not rising GDP” (Questioning economic growth, Nature 468: 370–371).
The previously published GDP map on the global distribution of GDP for 2010 and 2015 gives a good indication how little the distribution of global wealth has changed, and where the nations of the world are that may reconsider their attitude towards further growth. The map is less useful to see the dimension of changes and to see how little things have changed so far: The rich countries getting richer and the poor countries trying to catch up with these developments – and still, rising levels of global inequalities and further socio-economic disparities. This is shown in the following map, which displays the absolute growth derived from the GDP estimates for 2010 and 2015. The map thus shows the countries resized to the total growth that is expected for all countries in the given timespan and gives a clear picture of where the growth is largest (apparently, G20 countries dominate much of this cartogram. The colour key for the countries adds another dimension by showing the rate of growth reached 2015 compared to the level of 2010, an indicator that shows the most dynamic economies in the years to come – and those which kept on producing more carbon emissions despite the recession:
People across the worst hit countries by the proposed austerity measures to reduce national debt levels gathered on the streets of many European cities to protest against public spending cuts. The financial crash hugely affected many government across the EU with little signs of a quick recovery of the public debt levels.
The following map shows how Europe is left in deficit two years after Lehman (and that in fact the EURO zone isn’t worse off than EU members without the common currency). There may be signs of recovery, but this picture will certainly stay with us for a while: