Americans continue to believe that China, rather than the United States, is the world's leading economic power, finds a Gallup poll released Monday.
The poll, conducted on Feb. 3-7, finds that 50 percent of Americans view China as the leading economic power, compared to 37 percent who believe their country is the top economy in the world.
In the year 2000, when the U.S. economy was booming, nearly two-thirds of Americans saw their own country as the leading global economic power. Japan was viewed as second at 16 percent, and China was third at 10 percent, according to Gallup.
However, by the next time Gallup asked about this in February 2008, when the United States was in recession and China's economy was growing at nearly 10 percent annually, China edged ahead of the United States to 40 percent, while the latter gained 33 percent. By 2011, the majority of U.S. adults believed China was the world's No. 1 economy.
Whether China or the United States is the largest economic power is not entirely straightforward. Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that the U.S. annual gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014 was 17,348 billion U.S. dollars, while China's GDP in the same year was 63,591 billion yuan (9,740 billion U.S. dollars), according to China's National Bureau of Statistics.
Although China's GDP now counts for a little more than half of that of the United States, the International Monetary Fund recently declared China to be the biggest on the basis of purchasing power.
Meanwhile, Gallup finds more Americans predicting that the United States will be the world's leading economic power in 20 years.
Forty-four percent expect the United States to be No. 1 at that time, eclipsing the 34 percent who name China as the world's future No. 1 economy in 20 years.
This is nearly a reversal of attitudes from 2011 and 2012, when more Americans named China than the United States. Still, it is a long way from 2000, when the United States was the dominant response.
Americans viewed Japan as more powerful a decade and a half ago, at a time when its economy was the world's second-largest, a position the island nation lost to China in recent years.
But today, no other country really competes with China and the United States for the distinction of global economic power in the minds of Americans. In terms of the current leading economic powers, only 5 percent name Japan, 4 percent name the European Union, 2 percent name Russia and 1 percent name India.
China's rapid economic growth over the past decade or more, along with the U.S. economic struggles, likely contributed to Americans' perceptions that China had overtaken the United States.