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Monday, February 3, 2020

The World’s Top 10 Manufacturing Nations Since 1970

The USA is still a global manufacturing powerhouse.

Image Credit: Unsplash-Rafael Juarez | Unsplash License (https://unsplash.com/license)

Made with Flourish

Here’s a new animated “bar chart race” visualization showing the world’s top ten manufacturing nations by share of global manufacturing output from 1970 to 2018 using data from the statistics division of the United Nations. Flourish has updated its graphing program, and you can now stop the visualization with the arrow in the lower-left corner. You can also fast-forward (or go back) to a specific year by clicking on it. A few observations:

  1. The USSR was the world’s second-largest manufacturing nation from 1970 until it was surpassed by Japan in 1983, which rose to the No. 2 position.
  2. After overtaking Russia in 1983, Japan quickly rose as a manufacturing powerhouse and almost overtook the USA by the mid-1990s, including in 1993 when Japan produced 22.1% of world output vs. 22.9% for the USA and in 1995 when Japan produced 22.0% of the world’s manufacturing vs. USA’s 22.2% share.
  3. China’s rise to become one of the world’s top manufacturers started in the mid-1990s after a long period of producing a fairly stable share of only 3-4% of the world’s factory output from 1970 to 1995. By 1996, China was out-producing both Italy and France for the first time and outproduced Germany starting in 2001 before surpassing Japan in 2007 and the USA in 2010.
  4. Despite falling to the No. 2 position behind China in 2010, the USA is still a global manufacturing powerhouse and produced more manufacturing output in 2018 ($2.32 trillion) than No. 3 Japan, No. 4 Germany, and No. 5 Korea combined ($2.27 trillion) and more than No. 4 Germany, No. 5 Korea, No. 6 India, No. 7 Italy, and No. 8 France combined ($2.26 trillion).  

This article was reprinted with permission from the American Enterprise Institute.


  • Mark J. Perry is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan’s Flint campus.