The Country-Level Income Structure of the World-Economy


  • Salvatore Babones University of Sydney



World-systems sociologists have long recognized a three-tier structure in the world-economy, which comprises peripheral, semi-peripheral, and core groups of countries. This paper introduces a new database tool for analyzing this structure of the world-economy in terms of national income, the Structure of the World-Economy (SWE) analytical tool. It can be used to chart the structure of the world-economy in terms of income per capita for any year from 1960-2000 based on parameters selected by the user. Results confirm the existence of a three-tier structure of the world-economy that is relatively stable over the period for which data are available. A continuous set of benchmarks for the boundary points separating zones of the world-economy are reported for the period 1975?2002, along with a brief analysis of national mobility across those boundaries. Only seventeen countries (out of 103) made lasting transitions between zones of the world-economy over the study period, mostly due to changes in the prices of natural resources. The results of this study suggest that development policy formation should focus more on the attainable goal of transitioning countries from the periphery to the semiperiphery of the world-economy, and less on achieving an absolute standard of ?developed? or core country status.




How to Cite

Babones, S. (2005). The Country-Level Income Structure of the World-Economy. Journal of World-Systems Research, 11(1), 29–55.



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