April 29 2010|07.04 AM UTC

Stan Reybern

The US vs. China: Economies Head to Head

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The United States and China are two of the largest economies in the world. While remarkably similar in some aspects, there are fundamental differences in many areas. Billshrink breaks down how the US and Chinese economies are alike and how they differ in the infographic below.

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US vs China: Economies Head to Head

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Joey April 29, 2010 at 10:04 am

Unemployment and Poverty lok bad for US until you realize it is a percentage. 4.15% of China’s population is much more than 9.8% of the US population.

2008 puts China’s pop at 1,324,655,000 and US at 307,006,550. So that translates to 54,973,182.5 unemployed in China and 30,086,641.9 in the USA.

Poverty comes out to 38,414,995 for China and 39,910,851.5 for the USA.

Go Go Powerbama Poverty plan! ACTIVATE!


Connor March 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Another thing about the poverty line the U.s poverty line is much higher than China so people below our poverty line are above theirs


Misleading April 29, 2010 at 10:22 am

From someone living in China it is really hard to believe that the poverty rat is that much less than in America.Food prices at our local market are relativley similair and yet people are earning just over a dollar an hour if they are lucky. Living in a bad area of the country or city and you see poverty everyday everywhere people, people living in shacks and sleeping on the street in groups of 15-30. I am not sure where those numbers come from but they can’t be right


Anonymous August 13, 2011 at 4:40 am

People earning just over a dollar an hour is a terrible cliche. There are regions within China where this is the case. Bur for example in the east of china, people earn just as much as I we do in the western world.


third April 29, 2010 at 10:37 am

Poverty is proboly defined differently in the two countries


ADS April 29, 2010 at 11:21 am

Some of the charts are missing essential information, such as the relevant dates (e.g., chart on the top right: GDP growth for which year?)


XYcomment April 29, 2010 at 11:24 am

How is poverty defined for the chart? Is it relative to the average wage? In that case, the comparison doesn’t make any sense (whereas a bell curve for each showing the percentage of people making less than average would be more interesting and useful.

I mean, when it comes down to it, what does poverty in China actually mean?


tom April 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

I think there is a different measure of poverty in the two countries.


dave April 29, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I’m not in a McMansion. I must be in poverty!


ColdCalc April 29, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Pverty probably is defined differently in each country. In China it’s probably struggling to eat. In America it’s probably struggling to keep your house and being in debt from buying too much stuff you can’t afford, or from getting hurt/sick. Either way, there’s a huge chunk of America in poverty that most Americans never visit because it’s too dangerous or dirty.


JD April 29, 2010 at 9:16 pm

The poverty stat is measuring apples to oranges. Each country has a different definition of “poverty”. The average poor person in the US is still making much more money than the average middle-class person in China. Also you have to remember that no economist who seriously studies and understands China trusts the official numbers, there is no way to verify them and there is no transparency the way there is with US numbers. There is tons of evidence to support the claim that China manipulates ALL of its economic data.


Elijah April 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm

like that comment, apples in oranges


james m. convey April 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm

To all you who are resisting the facts, that poverty in the US is larger than China by a significant %. With all your reasoning and excuses and attempts to debunk these facts. It is still an absolute disgrace that you seem to forget, that you are living in the most advanced economy, both socially and technologically in the history of man, and yet still you cannot solve a simple thing like poverty?
Just remember that China is coming out of almost total poverty as a nation within the last 20 years only. You have had 250 years to get to here! It is an unfair comparison by any stretch to try to implicate errors in the above graphic analysis as presented, against your shame as a citizen of a nation that permits such poverty to exist at all! Get honest and get real. Poverty will continue to escalate in the US as the “greed is good” economics of the last 30 years takes its toll on jobs and finances of ordinary everyday people. This while the rich get richer…Enjoy the future folks! China on the rise, US on the decline! Practical reality!


james m. convey April 30, 2010 at 3:37 pm

@Misleading ……. I would like to know where exactly you are living in China? It is true that in every urban centre in any country, one can find abject poverty. Rio , Washington, Detroit, L.A, New orleans, etc etc. The problem is that as China’s % of poor declines, the % of poor in the western economies is on the rise. These are the facts!


Steven April 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm

China may be in the rise economically but it will remain only a regional power for some time to come. Yes the U.S. has problems and yes we need to fix them. Yes too that we’ve had 230+ years to do it but as I seem to recall China’s had several thousand to do it and they failed at it for all of them up until the last 20.


Kat May 3, 2010 at 11:12 am

Of course I don’t live in China, but I find it hard to believe that outside of Beijing/Shanghai/HK, that food prices are as high as in USA.
Of course if you want strawberries all year long, it would be expensive. But I think that eating noodles, local food and vegetables would not be as expensive as how foods in US are shipped hundreds and hundreds of miles.


Jon M May 4, 2010 at 11:00 am

Poverty is not a simple thing to solve. It is an extremely difficult problem to solve. The poverty comparison in the chart is misleading; it compares relative poverty within the US to absolute poverty in China.

In the US, an individual is below the “poverty line” if they earn less than $11,161 per year. As far as I can tell, the graph represents Chinese poverty with the World Bank benchmark for extreme poverty of $1.25 per day ($465/year).

In the US the average annual income is $37500 per person, while in China it’s $4990.

Without diminshing the difficulties the poor face in the US, it is clear that in terms of ABSOLUTE poverty the poor are much better off in the US, where they can with assistance recieve clean water, food, shelter, and other basic necessities.

A valid comparison would compare the number of people in China and in the US who live on less than $2 per day.


azmyth May 8, 2010 at 6:50 am

The U.S. poverty line for a single person is $10,830 per year.

The Chinese poverty line is $456 per YEAR. Of course they have a lower poverty rate – our homeless earn more than 10 times that much begging. Chinese poor are malnourished and close to starving, American poor have high rates of obesity. American poor also benefit from many government programs, such as food stamps, welfare and subsidized housing. The chart is dishonest to put them next to one another without an explanation.


john May 25, 2010 at 12:15 am

No one in America is in poverty. Poverty is $2 USD in PPP per day. There are hundreds of millions of people in that situation world wide. To call the lazy fat guy next door ‘poor’ is an insult to all the people in the world who are really struggling.

Poor people in America are more likely to be FAT than their rich counterparts. Poverty in America, short of mental illness, is simply a life choice.


Matthew Bartoletti February 2, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I think that the poverty rate in china is way highet than in the US but their govement doesn’t spend access ammounts of money on lazy people. If our goverment cut useless funding we would save money to.


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