When Will China’s Economy Overtake America’s?

As China’s economy continues to grow and eventually matches US GDP, the demand that the Chinese assume greater responsibility for the global economy’s health will become stronger. By almost all recent estimates, they have little time to prepare.

BEIJING – Is China poised to surpass the United States to become the world’s largest economy? The International Monetary Fund recently predicted that the size of China’s economy would overtake that of the US in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) by 2016.

But a recent co-authored study by Robert Feenstra, an economist at the University of California, Davis, shows that global economic leadership would pass to China in 2014. And, even more radically, Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute of International Economics argues that China actually surpassed the US in PPP terms in 2010.

Purchasing power parity measures a country’s income using a set of international prices applied to all economies. Prices in developing countries are usually lower than in the developed countries. Therefore, their income could be underestimated if calculated only according to the exchange rate. Income measured in PPP helps to avoid this problem.

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