China’s economy continues to dominate in the polls, if not in reality

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Another poll question on the economic power of nations, this time from Gallup (via Greg Mankiw):

“Which one of the following do you think is the leading economic power in the world today?”

China: 40 percent

The United States: 33 percent

Japan: 13 percent

The European Union: 7 percent

India: 2 percent

Russia: 2 percent

This is even worse than the Pew poll result that Barbara Kiviat blogged about here a few days ago. I was shocked by Pew’s finding that 30% of Americans thought China was the world’s leading economic power, but at least they got a larger number (41%) putting America No. 1.

Just to refresh, here’s Barbara’s chart of the actual global economic standings:


Now I don’t want to discount the importance of China’s rise and its wrenching effect on some American industries. But I find it really worrying that most Americans don’t understand that the U.S. remains far and away the richest and most powerful nation on earth. Because if our politicians listen to voters who think the Chinese have it better than we do, they’re going to enact some really crazy trade laws.