- 44%, up from 37% in 2021, say U.S. is leading economic power in world
- Democrats, independents responsible for increase
- More expect U.S. (44%) than China (37%) to be top power in 20 years
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- More Americans now than in 2021, 44% to 37%, believe the United States is the leading economic power in the world. That seven-percentage-point increase is nearly matched by an eight-point decline (from 50% to 42%) in the percentage identifying China as the top economic power.
Americans’ views of the leading economic power have shifted in recent years. The U.S. and China now essentially tie, but China led by a significant margin in 2021 and the U.S. did in 2020. In most prior years, China led, although the U.S. was the overwhelming choice when the question was first asked in 2000.
The latest results are from Gallup’s annual World Affairs survey, conducted Feb. 1-23.
Relatively few Americans give a response other than the United States or China. In addition to those two countries, 4% believe the European Union is the leading economic power, 4% say Japan is, 3% choose Russia, and 2% name India.
In past surveys, Japan was more commonly thought to be the leading economic power, with 10% or more naming it in 2000 (16%), 2008 (13%) and 2009 (10%).
Democrats, Independents More Bullish on U.S. Economic Positioning
Democrats and independents are responsible for the increased belief that the U.S. is the leading economic power in the world today. Both party groups show significant increases from 2021 in the percentage choosing the U.S. -- 14 points among Democrats and nine points among independents. Relatedly, both groups are less likely than in 2021 to believe China is the leading economic power, including a seven-point drop among Democrats and a 14-point decrease among independents.
Republicans’ opinions show no meaningful changes from 2021; they still regard China (48%) rather than the U.S. (43%) as the leading economic power.
United States Regains Edge as Expected Economic Power 20 Years From Now
In addition to asking which country Americans believe is the leading economic power today, Gallup asks the public to say which country they expect to be the leading power 20 years from now.
Forty-four percent of U.S. adults now name the United States on this future-oriented question, compared with 37% who choose China. That is a switch from 2021, when China led by six points. In 2020, the United States led by an even larger margin than it does today, 23 points.
Republicans (50%) are more inclined than Democrats (43%) and independents (41%) to believe the U.S. will be the leading world economic power 20 years from now. Roughly similar proportions of all three party groups believe China will be the leading economy in 20 years, including 37% of Republicans, 33% of Democrats and 39% of independents.
As a result, both Democrats and Republicans think the U.S. rather than China will be the leading economic power in the future, while independents are divided.
Democrats are more likely than the other groups to choose a response other than the U.S. or China, with 9% believing the European Union will be the leading economic power in 20 years, 6% naming India, 5% Japan and 3% Russia.
Republicans and independents are each more likely now than in 2021 (44% and 32%, respectively) to believe the U.S. will be the leading economic power in 20 years, and less likely to believe China will (49% of Republicans and 51% of independents in 2021 held this view).
Democrats’ views are generally similar over the two years, with a slight reduction in the percentage choosing China (from 39%) and a slight increase in the percentage choosing countries other than the U.S.
Americans’ opinions of which nation is the leading economic power today and which will be so in the future have varied over time. These attitudes have generally shifted according to the perceived health of the U.S. economy. When Americans believed the U.S. economy was strong, such as in 2000 and 2020 (before the pandemic), significantly more Americans chose the U.S. over China as the leading economic power. However, at times when U.S. adults have been less optimistic about the domestic economy, including now, they have been divided or ranked China ahead of the U.S.
The United States remains the largest economy in the world, though China threatens that status in the future, given its larger population and faster economic growth relative to other countries in recent decades. For now, Americans are more optimistic that the U.S. will still be the leading power in 20 years, though that view, too, has changed in recent years.
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