The developed countries with the largest proportion of global industrial companies have remained relatively stable between 1960 and 2010. The top five countries are the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, France and Germany. However the percentage of total industrial concerns centered in these developed nations has dropped significantly over that 50-year span, giving way to rapidly rising industrial production in emerging market economies such as China, India and Brazil.

The industrial goods sector is wide-ranging and encompasses a vast amount of businesses, industries and products. Nonetheless, basic trends in manufacturing apply fairly evenly across the board of the global economy. In 1960, the U.S. served as the headquarters for approximately 65% of the world's 250 largest industrial firms, with the remainder located primarily in Europe and Japan. But by 2010, that percentage had fallen to just above 33% of the world's largest industrial companies. Japan's percentage of world industrial firms has grown to about 15%, and the U.K., France and Germany account for approximately 7% each.

The developed countries' loss has largely been the gain of emerging markets. As of 2015, collectively, the nations of China, India, Brazil and Mexico account for roughly 10% of global industrial production. Eastern European countries such as Hungary have also begun to develop as significant industrial production centers. Industrial companies in the developed nations tend to be more focused on innovation, while emerging market industries are more concentrated on basic manufacturing production.

The pattern for the industrial sector in developed nations is typical of how economies develop and mature. As economies become industrialized, there is initially an explosion of manufacturing employment and output. But as the growth in industry produces more disposable income for consumers, this gives rise to an increased demand for services as compared to products. Over time, services companies see a more accelerated growth rate than industrial companies and begin to account for a larger proportion of a nation's overall gross domestic product, or GDP.

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