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Visualizing the Importance of Services in the World's Economy

Most of the world’s economic production comes from the agriculture, industry, and services sectors. The services sector, in particular, plays a much larger role in the world economy than you might think. To illustrate the impact of the services sector on the world economy, we created a collection of visualizations that show us services as a percentage of the GDP in countries across the globe.

  • Services account for at least 50% of the GDP in over half of the world’s countries and about 65% of the world’s GDP.
  • While the world economy and job growth in the United States have slowed down, the services sector is still doing well.
  • Some believe that, while the sector is doing well for now, the international trade of services will slow down.
  • Services account for about 77% of the United States’ GDP.

To create our visualizations, we pulled data from The World Bank, which shows us services as a percentage of GDP, value added by services in USD, and employment in services as a percentage of total employment. Countries on the map are color-coded based on the percentage of each country’s GDP represented by services. Darker shades indicate higher percentages, and lighter shades indicate lower percentages.

By analyzing this data, we can see how the services sector impacts the world economy as well as economies in countries around the world. Only countries with data from 2017 or earlier were considered for this analysis.

Top 3 Countries in the Americas by Services Output

1. United States: $15.1 trillion, 79.14% employment
2. Brazil: $1.3 trillion, 70.18% employment
3. Mexico: $700.8 billion, 61.05% employment

In the Americas, the United States leads all other countries in terms of value added by services and percentage of population employed in the services sector. In general, the services sector is the main sector for employment in the Americas.

Top 3 Countries in Asia by Services Output

1. China: $6.3 trillion, 44.61% employment
2. Japan: $3.4 trillion, 72.09% employment
3. India: $1.3 trillion, 31.45% employment

China, Japan, and India lead all other Asian countries in terms of value added by services. However, while China and India are two of the top three Asian countries in this sector, they are two of the few countries with under 50% of their populations employed in the services sector. Meanwhile, most other Asian countries have 50% or more employment in this sector.

Top 3 Countries in Africa by Services Output

1. South Africa: $214.9 billion, 71.60% employment
2. Nigeria: $209.7 billion, 51.83% employment
3. Egypt: $128.9 billion, 48.55% employment

In general, Africa seems to be less reliant on services than other regions around the world. South Africa is a notable exception with 71.60% of all employees working in the services sector. In most African countries, the economy is dominated by the agriculture and services sectors.

Top 3 Countries in Europe by Services Output

1. Germany: $2.3 trillion, 71.60% employment
2. United Kingdom: $1.9 trillion, 80.75% employment
3. France: $1.8 trillion, 77.08% employment

Like the Americas, most countries in Europe are heavily reliant on the services sector. For example, more than 80% of all employees in the United Kingdom work in the services sector. At least 40% of every country’s population in this region is employed in services. In most cases, employment in this sector is over 50% of each country’s population.

Top 3 Countries in Oceania by Services Output

1. Australia: $886.3 billion, 78.05% employment
2. Fiji: $3 billion, 47.47% employment
3. Timor-Leste: $1.1 billion, 40.54% employment

In Oceania, data was only available for three countries: Australia, Fiji, and Timor-Leste. Of these countries, Australia is by far the most reliant on services, with 78% of its population employed in this sector. Fiji and Timor-Leste, while less-reliant on services than Australia, still depend on services more than agricultural or industrial production.

As demonstrated by this data, the services sector is one of the most important markets in the world in terms of its impact on the world economy. About 49% of the world’s population is employed in this sector. While some believe that the services sector is getting ready to slow down, it is currently performing very well despite the U.S. and China trade war.

Would a trade war impact service sectors? If the global recession gets worse will people stop spending on services? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Authors

Juan Carlos

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