Sunday, July 31, 2011

Window of Opportunity

So I've written that China isn't destined to overtake us as the top power in the world:

Let's imagine China and America in the year 2100, 89 years from now.

China's population is estimated to peak in about 2030 at 1.393 billion. By 2100, China will decline to 0.941 billion people. America, at a Census Bureau middle projection will tip the scales at 0.571 billion. At the high end projection, we'll have 1.182 billion people. Note that the projection made 11 years ago for today's population was 302,300,000 and the high end was given as 314,846,00. We are actually at 311,308,000, so we are closer to the high end prediction than the middle projection.

With all the caveats about projecting that far into the future, we could have from 60% of China's population to more people than China! Will China have twice the GDP per-capita as America then? With a population older than our population? Because if not, China's lead in gross GDP will not last and we will regain that title well before 2100 rolls around (unless India is the one to surpass us in gross GDP).

In part, I've relied on a concept that--while I didn't know it--is called the "Lewis turning point."

AND now a RAND study should stifle some of the hyper-ventilating amongst the Commie fan boys in the West who dream of China's rise. Says the RAND monograph:

China is likely to become the most important contender over the next 40 years in terms of national resource base, but its relative GDP has everything to do with how high its per capita productivity gets vis-a-vis the Untied States. If it achieves Japan-like levels of productivity by 2050, its GDP will be double America's. If, however, it begins to level off as it approaches productivity levels characteristic of South Korea today, then China's economy will be somewhat larger than the American economy. Finally, if the many challenges that China has --pollution, corruption, and financing the elderly--are not met, China may reach an economic inflection point earlier rather than later and fail to surpass U.S. GDP levels. Demographics suggest that if China's economy cannot surpass the United States' by 2050, it might never do so.

Oh, and a sincere "eff you very much" to RAND for disabling copy functions in their PDF. That was thoughtful for something that they presumably want disseminated widely. No, really, I didn't mind freaking retyping something from the freaking web in the freaking 21st century. I'm fine with that. Really.

But I digress.

China wants to pass us by. They could do it. We shouldn't want them to, however. And unless we shoot ourselves in the foot and cripple our own economy to essentially throw the race (and God help me, I go to sleep every night trying to convince myself that our leaders aren't doing just that), there is no reason we have to give up our lead. Or if we do drop to the number two spot, no reason we can't regain the lead.

And never forget that when our relative power is in the balance, our geography gives us one heck of an advantage over China. In the future, when people speak of the "American century," we should be able to respond, "be more specific."