Saturday, February 23, 2008

Americans See China as World Economic Leader

Public opinion pollling in recent months has found Americans to be increasingly pessimistic on the direction of the country.

One of the most recent indicators of such sentiment is
the new Gallup finding that a plurality of Americans sees China as the world's dominant country in global economic relations:

In a sharp turnaround from eight years ago, Americans no longer believe the United States is the world's leading economic power. They are now more likely to bestow that mantle on China.

According to Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, updated Feb. 11-14, 2008, 4 in 10 Americans consider China to be the world's leading economic power; only 33% choose the United States. By contrast, in May 2000, the United States dominated public perceptions on this question, with 65% saying it was No.1.

Nearly all of the movement away from the United States as the perceived leading economic power has gone toward China. The percentages today choosing Japan, the European Union, and India are about what they were in 2000.

The United States' drop on this measure is nearly as sharp as the decline in U.S. consumer confidence over the same period. In a May 2000 Gallup Poll, when the country was still riding the dot-com boom, 66% of Americans rated economic conditions in the country as "excellent" or "good." Today, with the country poised on the edge of recession, only 23% are positive about the economy.

Eight years ago, most Americans (55%) were confident the United States would retain its No. 1 economic positioning for at least the next two decades. Few believed China, Japan, or the EU would overtake the United States. Now, when asked to look ahead 20 years, more Americans predict China, rather than the United States, will be the world's leading economic power.

Notably, not many more Americans think China will advance to the economic superpower position in 20 years (44%) than think it is already there (40%). About a third believe the United States will be the top economic power, similar to the percentage naming it as the leading economic power today. Relatively few Americans expect Japan, the EU, India, or Russia to emerge as the top economic superpower.

Appropriately, the Gallup piece puts public opinion in perspective. The fact is the U.S. is not likely to be overtaken by China soon, nor has China's growth knocked other international peer competitors from the top ranks of the great powers:

When considered against the backdrop of China's enormous population, the story of China's explosive economic growth over the last few decades (averaging 9.6% annual growth in GDP since 1978) can seem formidable. According to a recent Newsweek article, "In 2007 China contributed more to global growth than the United States, the first time another country had done so since at least the 1930s."

Still, according to the most recent World Bank figures, the United States leads the world in economic output (as measured by GDP), and by a substantial margin over second-ranked Japan. China has been making impressive strides in climbing the rank order of national economies, rising from sixth in the world in 2000 to fourth in 2006, but still falls below the United States, Germany, and Japan.

Americans' misperceptions about the economic rank order of nations also overlook Japan's stature on the economic playing field, ranking second worldwide. Also, although few Americans mention the EU as an economic powerhouse, 5 of the EU's 27 member countries, including third-place Germany, rank in the top 10 of the world's largest economies.
Gallup notes simply that Americans are in a funk, which contributes to the likely findings that China's taken the lead in the global economy.

See also Daniel Drezner's recent piece, "
The Eagle Still Soars: Reports of America's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated."


Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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