Internet accounts for 21 percent of global GDP growth

The internet has certainly come a long way since its embryonic stage with a following of geeks, researchers and kids mucking around in chat rooms.

Now, as the web arguably moves into its third incarnation and beyond, it is clear that the internet has taken hold of the world with alacrity – as highlighted by a detailed report released today by McKinsey at the eG8 Forum.

The report shows that with two billion users across the world, the internet is increasingly responsible for the riches of various countries, with businesses also benefiting massively from the widespread use of the web.

In fact it is claimed that, overall, 21 percent of GDP growth over the last five years in the countries looked at, including Brazil, India, South Korea, Sweden, Russia was attributable to internet usage.

Mature countries such as England and Sweden were also at the top of the list of countries in terms of total GDP, with around six percent coming from the internet.

While this figure is less than four percent for many of the other countries – which were picked to give a variety of emerging and developed markets – there’s still substantial room for growth. The McKinsey report suggests the internet is still actually in its infancy.

In terms of consumption and expenditure the internet as a sector could be larger than the energy or agriculture sectors.

Its contribution to the GDP is said to be bigger than that of Spain or Canada, and it’s growing faster than Brazil, meaning that if the internet was a country it would certainly be a very good one. Just avoid the Goatse district.

The research also showed that the internet has significantly improved life for smaller business. Of 4,800 SMEs questioned, those with a strong presence online have been growing twice as fast as those with little or no online profile.

A 10 percent increase in productivity was also reported by SMEs.

Furthermore, rather than rendering jobs obsolete, the research argues that for every job lost due to internet use, 2.6 jobs were created.

An example is in France, where 500,000 jobs destroyed by the internet over the past 15 years were offset by the creation of 1.2 million others, a ratio of around 2.4.

McKinsey also states that it’s not just business owners and government which has reaped the rewards of web proliferation, with an average increase of GDP per capita of $500 on average over the past 15 years.

In fact, it took the Industrial Revolution fifty years during the 19th century to achieve similar results, according to smug 21st century dwellers at McKinsey, who provided little in comparative stats for either the Iron or Bronze ages.