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The internet has had a positive impact on global growth and job creation, affecting the economic prospects of developed nations and countries at various stages of development alike.

In this May 2011 study, McKinsey examines the direct economic impact of the growth of the internet, specifically focusing on its contribution to GDP and economic growth in the G8 countries as well as Brazil, China, India, South Korea, and Sweden. 

Notably, the internet accounted for 21 percent of GDP growth over the last five years among the developed nations McKinsey studied, and, on average, comprises 3.4 percent of the GDP across these same countries. Most of the economic value created by the internet falls outside of the technology sector, with 75 percent of the benefits captured by companies in more traditional industries. However, if internet consumption and expenditure were its own sector, its contribution to GDP would be greater than other critical industries such as energy and agriculture.

“SMEs that took advantage of the Internet reported the share of total revenues that they earned from exports was more than twice as large as that reported by others. They also created more than twice the number of jobs as others.”

Not only is the internet a current major contributor to GDP, it is also critical to sustaining economic growth. In the countries studied, the internet accounted for 10 percent of GDP growth over the past fifteen years. However, in the past five years alone, the internet’s contribution to GDP growth doubled to 21 percent. The internet also facilitates job growth: among 4,800 small and medium-size enterprises surveyed, the internet created 2.6 jobs for each lost to technology-related efficiencies.

Of the countries that have a strong internet ecosystem, the best performers focus their efforts in four main areas: promoting human capital, easing access to financial capital, developing infrastructure, and creating an attractive business environment. By understanding how much the internet contributes to national economies, the report hopes that policymakers and business executives can focus their efforts more acutely and effectively to promote internet ecosystems.