Survey: America in Decline, China on the Rise

| April 1, 2011

The American people strongly believe that the United States is in rapid decline as it loses economic power and influence to rising nations such as China, says a new survey by the Center for the Study of the American Dream at Xavier University.

Among the findings of the Second Annual State of the American Dream SurveyTM, 65% of Americans believe that America is in decline, while only 23% believe it is on the rise (down from 32% last year).  57% think the “world looks to many different countries” as the standard for success, while only 39% believe America “represents the future.”

 The survey shows that Americans are not only convinced of our nation’s decline, but also of China’s rapid rise to international leadership.  52% of respondents named China as the nation the world now looks to in terms of the future, dwarfing all other nations (15% for the European Union, 10% for Japan, 5% for the Middle East, and 3% for India and Southeast Asia). 

A stunning 63% believe that the Chinese economy is more powerful than the US economy.

“Fear of America’s economic decline and China’s rise on the world stage is palpable,” said Michael Ford, Founding Director of the Center for the Study of the American Dream.  “While China's economy is indeed growing, it remains only one-third the size of America's economy with a population four times larger.  The psychological significance of this misconception foreshadows a self-generated and fundamental obstacle to the American Dream.   

The Second Annual State of the American Dream SurveyTM was conducted by Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3) from March 6-15, 2011.  Telephone interviews were conducted with 1,003 adults age 18 and older.  The margin of error for the sample is +/-3.1%.   

Learn more about the study and the Center at