America: Still Richer Than China.

Though, try telling that to most Americans:

In the poll, only one in five Americans said that the U.S. economy is the world’s strongest -- nearly half picked China instead. Looking forward, Americans are somewhat more optimistic about regaining primacy, but still only about one in three expect the U.S. economy to be the world’s strongest in 20 years. Nearly three-fifths of those surveyed said that increasing competition from lower-paid workers around the world will keep living standards for average Americans from growing as fast as they did in the past. Ruben Owen, a retired Boeing engineer in Seattle who responded to the survey, spoke for many when he said, “We’re still in a reasonably good place … but it’s going to get harder because other places are growing stronger.”

As a rule, people are inclined to see most things as a zero-sum game. Other countries are becoming richer, so by definition, the United States is becoming poorer. Of course, the world isn't zero-sum, at least when it comes to the global economy. China is growing, yes, but not to the detriment of the United States. And while China is richer than it has ever been, it is still much poorer than the U.S; at just over $14 trillion, the U.S. economy is larger than China's by nearly $9 trillion. Put another way, rural poverty and subsistence farming is still the rule for the great majority of Chinese and will likely stay true for the foreseeable future. As for why Americans are anxious? Wage stagnation, income inequality, and a terrible recession might have something to do with it.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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