Robert Fogel makes the case that we’re underestimating China’s rise, in Foreign Policy:
In 2040, the Chinese economy will reach $123 trillion, or nearly three times the economic output of the entire globe in 2000. China’s per capita income will hit $85,000, more than double the forecast for the European Union, and also much higher than that of India and Japan. In other words, the average Chinese megacity dweller will be living twice as well as the average Frenchman when China goes from a poor country in 2000 to a superrich country in 2040. Although it will not have overtaken the United States in per capita wealth, according to my forecasts, China’s share of global GDP — 40 percent — will dwarf that of the United States (14 percent) and the European Union (5 percent) 30 years from now. This is what economic hegemony will look like.
Most accounts of China’s economic ascent offer little but vague or threatening generalities, and they usually grossly underestimate the extent of the rise — and how fast it’s coming. (For instance, a recent study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace predicts that by 2050, China’s economy will be just 20 percent larger than that of the United States.) Such accounts fail to fully credit the forces at work behind China’s recent success or understand how those trends will shape the future. Even China’s own economic data in some ways actually underestimate economic outputs.
It’s the same story with the relative decline of a Europe plagued by falling fertility as its era of global economic clout finally ends. Here, too, the trajectory will be more sudden and stark than most reporting suggests. Europe’s low birthrate and its muted consumerism mean its contribution to global GDP will tumble to a quarter of its current share within 30 years. At that point, the economy of the 15 earliest EU countries combined will be an eighth the size of China’s.
This is what the future will look like in a generation. It’s coming sooner than we think.
What, precisely, does China have going so right for it?