China and India: Growing fast but still dirt poor

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Gallop just published a poll of adult Americans that made me gasp.

“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

People believe China is a larger economic power than America or Europe! If we assume “economic power” means 2007 nominal GDP the real answer is below: 

European Union: $16.4 trillion
United States: $13.8 trillion
Japan: $4.3 trillion
….
China $3.2 trillion
….
India $1.1 trillion

How does people’s perception differ so far from reality? Maybe it has something to do with this:

 http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/china/
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_34/b3948439.htm
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2007/08/26/world/asia/choking_on_growth.html
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1561214,00.html
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11571348/site/newsweek/print/1/displaymode/1098
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/worldopinionroundup/2006/03/india_we_have_arrived.html

 This uneven media treatment is deeply problematic. Not only does it add fuel to that protectionist fear-mongering that continues to thwart our better attempts to move into this century, but it whitewashes the plight of over half a billion in extreme poverty in those two countries.

300 million in China make under a dollar a day PPP

320 million in India make under a dollar a day PPP

Both of those figures are more than the extreme poor in African countries combined.

Ben Siegel wrote for Newsweek in Delhi last summer and shared with me his frustrations in being forced to write about India’s economic miracle when all he could see around him was begging children, filthy slums and sick cattle roaming the street. To him that was the real story. I couldn’t agree more.

For every one article on the China/India economic boom, we should mandate that two be written with the following title: “China and India: Growing fast but still dirt poor.” 

(Thanks to my boy Greg Mankiw for the link. Love the textbook, dawg)

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2 Responses to “China and India: Growing fast but still dirt poor”

  1. Free trade divide « The Invisible Hand, in your pants Says:

    […] trade divide Phil’s blog re: China and India are poor links to some really interesting public opinion polls. One poll from the link that Phil […]

  2. Limited perspective: Wall Street to Haiti « The Invisible Hand, in your pants Says:

    […] Let’s check another extreme framework, with an example from Haiti, not too far from Wall Street’s vaunted banks. Because Haitians are also a product of their environment, they aren’t likely to feel as victims until a very large and negative thing happens, such as getting thrown in a jail cell not bigger than a bathroom, with 43 other people locked in, perhaps for crimes they didn’t commit because 90% of prisoners have not had trials. People live in this cell literally on top of one another. This is SCARY. I don’t have to detail other victim examples from ethnic cleansing in Africa or forced labor in China. […]

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