FACT CHECK: Is Russia’s Economy ‘Just A Little Bit Bigger’ Than Illinois’ Economy?

Kush Desai | Fact Check Reporter

During Sunday’s episode of the ABC show “This Week,” hosted by George Stephanopoulos, ABC reporter Martha Raddatz sat down with Republican Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, The New Yorker contributing writer Robin Wright, and New York Times Chief White House Correspondent Peter Baker.

While discussing Russia and U.S. foreign policy, Kinzinger claimed, “Look, [Russia is] a competitor. They’re a strong nation, something we need to recognize, but their economy is just a little bit bigger than Illinois [sic], so they’re not our equal.”

Verdict: False

Russia’s economy is significantly “bigger” than Illinois’ by almost every major economic indicator. However, the Russian economy is a fraction of the size of the entire U.S. economy. Russia also lags behind Illinois and the U.S. on several major indicators of economic health and development.

Fact Check:

Economists and policymakers often use an economic statistic called Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to measure the size of a country or region’s economy. Calculated annually, GDP is the sum of all economic activity by the individuals, businesses, and government of an economy.

Russia’s GDP in 2016 was over $1.2 trillion. Illinois’ GDP in 2016 was two-thirds the size of Russia’s – coming in just under $800 billion.

GDP reflects a country’s endowments of land, natural resources, and people along with its use of those endowments to make and sell goods and services.

Extraction of Russia’s endowments of natural resources like oil, gas, gold, and iron – valued at over $75 trillion in 2005 – added nearly $400 billion to the country’s GDP in 2012. Illinois’ comparatively smaller endowment of natural resources like coal added only $8.8 billion to its GDP in 2012.

Kinzinger is incorrect in his statement that Russia’s economy is a little bigger than Illinois’, but his overall argument in the ABC interview, that the U.S. economy is much larger than Russia’s economy, is correct.

Russia’s economy may dwarf that of Illinois, but its $1.2 trillion GDP in 2016 is not even a tenth of the U.S. $18.5 trillion GDP.

Regardless of these other Illinois-Russia and U.S.-Russia comparisons, Kinzinger’s claim that Russia’s economy is “just a little bit bigger” than Illinois’ economy is false.

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Editor’s note: The original article misstated that Kinzinger claimed Illinois’ economy is bigger than Russia’s. Kinzinger stated that Russia’s “economy is just a little bit bigger than Illinois.”

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Kush Desai

Fact Check Reporter