“The Divergence of Economic and Coercive Power

 in the World Economy 1960 to 2000:

A Measure of Nation-State Position”


Jeffrey Kentor

University of Utah


This measure of position in the world-economy is an extension of my earlier work on this topic (Kentor 2000), and is based upon Charles Tilly’s (1994) theorization of the emergence of the modern nation-state system. Tilly argues that the current inter-state system is the result of a merging of coercive and economic power between A.D. 1000 and 1800. Prior to this time, economic and coercive, or military, power were separate. Political units, such as states, feudal areas and empires, were essentially containers of coercive power, used to acquire the necessary goods, and people, to maintain their systems. Economic power resided within cities, the centers of economic activities in these times, and where capital was accumulated by the emerging burgher class. As military technology progressed and warfare became more expensive, these political organizations were forced to look to cities for the financing of their military activities. The resulting relationship between state and city, of coercive and economic power, solidified over this 800 year period, giving rise to the modern nation-states of today. These modern nation-states controlled both military and economic power.


Following Tilly’s conceptualization, this measure of position in the world economy uses indicators of both economic and coercive (military) power to determine a country’s position in the global hierarchy from 1980 to 2000. Two aspects of economic power are included. The first is a country’s productive capacity, as indicated by total Gross Domestic Product. The second is the capital-intensive quality of the economy, as measured by per capita Gross National Product. These data are taken from the World Bank (2002). Coercive power is measured in terms of total military expenditures. These data are taken from Singer and Small (1994) and various years of the SIPRI Yearbook. For a detailed discussion of these measures, see Kentor (2000).


The actual scale is a simple additive measure, and is calculated as follows. The values for each variable are transformed into standard (Z) scores. The three values are then summed to obtain an overall measure of position. These values are given in the accompanying three tables for 2000, 1990, and 1980. Individual values for each indicator are also provided. An Excel version of the tables below is at




Kentor, Jeffrey. 2000. Kentor, Jeffrey. Capital and Coercion: The Role of Economic and Military Power in the World-Economy 1800-1990. New York: Routledge.


Singer, J. David and Melvin Small. 1994. Correlates of War Project. ICPSR Data File. Ann Arbor: ICPSR.


SIPRI. Various Years. SIPRI Yearbook. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Tilly, Charles. 1994. “Entanglements of European Cities and States.” In, Cities and the Rise of States in Europe AD 1000 to 1800, Edited by Charles Tilly and Wim Blockmans. Boulder: Westview Press.


World Bank. 2002. World Development Indicators. Washington, D.C: World Bank.





This measure used to categorize countries into world-system zones for 2000:

World Bank classification[1]       World-system position[2]        

Global “North:

High income

Australia                                               Core

Austria                                                  Core

Belgium                                                 Core

Canada                                                  Core

Denmark                                               Core

Finland                                                  Core

France                                                   Core

Germany                                               Core

Greece                                                  Semiperiphery

Hong Kong (China)                              Semiperiphery

Ireland                                                   Core

Israel                                                     Semiperiphery

Italy                                                       Core

Japan                                                     Core

Korea (Rep.)                                         Semiperiphery

Netherlands                                          Core

Norway                                                 Core

New Zealand                                        Semiperiphery

Portugal                                                Semiperiphery

Spain                                                     Core

Sweden                                                 Core

Switzerland                                           Core

Taiwan (excluded from all sources)      Semiperiphery

United Kingdom                                   Core

United States                                        Core

Global “South”:

Upper-middle income

Argentina                                              Semiperiphery                   

Chile                                                     Semiperiphery                   

Costa Rica                                             Semiperiphery                   

Lebanon                                                Periphery                           

Mexico                                                  Semiperiphery                   

Malaysia                                                Semiperiphery                   

Panama                                                 Semiperiphery                   

South Africa                                          Semiperiphery                   

Uruguay                                                Semiperiphery                   

Venezuela                                             Semiperiphery                   

Lower-middle income

Armenia                                                Periphery                           

Bolivia                                                  Periphery                           

Brazil                                                    Semiperiphery                   

Colombia                                              Semiperiphery                   

Dominican Republic                             Periphery                           

Ecuador                                                Periphery                           

El Salvador                                           Periphery                           

Iraq                                                       Periphery                           

Paraguay                                               Periphery                           

Peru                                                      Periphery                           

Philippines                                            Periphery                           


Low income

Bangladesh                                            Periphery                           

India                                                      Semiperiphery                   

Kenya                                                   Periphery                           

Nepal                                                    Periphery                           

Pakistan                                                Periphery                           

Sudan                                                    Periphery                           

Senegal                                                  Periphery                           

Vietnam                                                Periphery



[1] Based on the Gross National Income per Capita in 2004 (World Bank 2006; see also:

[2] Based on Kentor’s measure of the overall position in the world economy in 2000 (Kentor 2005: Table 4). The cutoff point between core and semiperipheral countries has been set at 2.00, the cutoff point between semiperipheral and peripheral countries at –0.89.