Tiny Tipping Points as China pulls ahead.

Although China has a nominal per capita income of just under a third of the US level in 2022 in PPP terms; since 2020 it has began to overhaul the US as a society in some key respects.

Life expectancy in China now exceeds that of the US by 20 months; at 78.2 years to the American 76.6. This might be dented this year by the current rise in COVID infections, but current indications are that the Zero Covid policy kept the population safe during the most lethal period, so the impact of opening up now will be qualitatively less than it was in the West.

In China, infant mortality has declined to 5 per 100,000, now below the US level of 5.5 and the maternal death rate at birth is now substantially lower, at 16 per 100,000, compared to 24 per 100,000 for the US.

While this is improving but uneven in both countries, the rate of improvement is greater in China.

  • In the worst performing US State, Mississippi, infant mortality declined slightly from 10.1 per 100,000 in 2009 to 8.7 per 100,000 in 2019.
  • While in Louisiana in 2021 the maternal death rate was 58.1 per 100,000 births.
  • This compares unfavourably with Xinjiang, one of China’s least developed and poorest regions, where infant mortality dropped dramatically from 26.58 per 1,000 in 2010 to 6.75 per 1,000 in 2020.
  • At the same time, the maternal death rate more than halved from 43.41 per 100,000 in 2010 to 17.89 per 100,000 in 2020 – less than a third the Louisiana rate.

NB the figure for Louisiana is for 2021, that for Xinjiang is for 2020.

Beneath the brute figures of sheer size of economies – China’s has been larger in PPP terms since 2014 and is likely to be bigger in exchange rate terms by the late 2020’s – China’s largest firms are beginning to outperform those of the USA, with Chinese companies in the Fortune 500 Global list earning $11.71 Trillion last year, compared to $11.34 trillion for the US companies listed. 87 out of the 145 Chinese companies listed are majority, or wholly, state owned.

This is underpinned by increasingly ground breaking scientific research, with the Chinese share of the most cited Scientific papers (top 1%) having grown to 27.2%, surpassing the USA’s 24.9%.

The US model of development, dependent as it is on dominating and exploiting the rest of the planet, producing consumption patterns with an elephantine carbon footprint, is neither a viable path for other countries to follow – because no other country can dominate the way that it does – nor, as we can see above, does it produce the best possible outcomes for its population from the resources it commands. It is already an outmoded model of modernity.

Figures from Dongsheng News

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