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    Will China catch up with South Korea in GDP per capita within 20 years?




    Martin Andrews, Asian analyst.


    Firstly lets get this straight, South Korea is not like Japan, its economy is not stagnant and is somewhat inter-depended on the Chinese economy.

    While China will continue to grow faster than South Korea for many years to come, South Korea stills grows at 2.5%+ per annum and is likely to grow at that rate for many years to come.

    The South Korea-China trade is very strong and is likely to grow stronger as the years go by, thus as China grows Korea will grow as well.

    China’s massive population will ensure that its PPP Per Capita as a whole remains substantially bellow that of S. Korea.

    This is not to say that parts of China won’t catch up, infact some cities already have a PPP Per Capita comparable to S. Korea (Shenzhen and Hong Kong), the other tier 1 cities will follow.








    Glenn Luk, Invests in China

    Barring war or some enormous massive disaster befalling South Korea, no they won't.

    There is only one scenario where I can see them getting close and that is if the Koreas decide to re-unite. Today, a hypothetical combined Korea would have 75 million people and per capita GDP (PPP adjusted) of around $23k [1]. China today has a per capita GDP of around $11k. If China grows at 6% real and the combined Korea at 2%, my friend Math says they reach parity in 20 years.

    But this is also a very, very low probability scenario within a 20-year window. The two Koreas have diverged so much the costs of reunification would be enormous.





    Lee Szi Kiat

    Honestly? It is very, very hard to say. While the answers above are reasonable, I somehow do disagree, with respect of course.

    It seems to me that most of us, which is entirely human nature, to extrapolate indefinitely in the future, which is where we get all the "China surpassing USA" data. It might happen, OR it might not happen. It is set more than a decade into the future, we don't know.

    Can you tell me what would happen tomorrow? An earthquake? A lottery win? Constipation? No.

    My point is, China is growing reasonably fast now, but it may not be so in the future. When it reaches the point of maturity, which is now, it will slow down, as you can see now.. Much more of a probability then China never going through a recession. Growth rates will slow, everything will normalize. It is pointless to make judgements based on today's performance, because it might change tomorrow or even the next second.

    译文来源:三泰虎           译者:Joyceliu





    The best way we can predict, in my opinion, is that we look at data that contributes to the future. Such as demographics, which are absolutely essential (as shown in the case of Japan), investments in R&D and so on.

    I feel that China has too large of a population to satisfy all of its citizens needs. So to me, no, China might not be able to catch up to South Korea in per capita in 20 years or longer, accounting to the fact of inevitable negative shocks, ie. falling growth, recessions, demographics.




    Darrell Francis, lived in South Korea

    It depends on how you measure GDP. If you're using nominal GDP, it will be virtually impossible for China to catch-up with South Korea in 20 years. For China to reach the same level of GDP per capita as South Korea has today in 20 years, GDP per capita would need to grow by at least 10% every year. To match South Korea in 20 years would require greater sustained growth than China has ever seen.

    If you're using real GDP, the goal of surpassing South Korea becomes a little less daunting. For China's GDP per capita in 20 years to match South Korea's current GDP per capita, it would only require 6% annual growth, which is high, but possible. China's ability to surpass South Korea would then depend on how much South Korea grows over the next 20 years. Given that South Korea's GDP per capita is still growing at over 4% annually, this will be a challenge.

    Competition from China is unlikely to greatly diminish the South Korean economy. The growing economy of China means the opening up of a massive consumer market which is a major opportunity for both China and South Korea. There may be more Chinese products on the market, but the market will also be much larger.






    This is not a question that can be answered by any linear interpolation on economic factors. This is a political question. Whatever Korean can do, Chinese can do it, and do it better. Therefore, China can have a GDP per capita higher than South Korea, but US will try its best to put China down. For instance, US may push Chinese companies who deliver exactly the same or higher quality products compare to Korean competitors out of every markets it has influence on (However, the only reason US is interested in doing this is because these Korean companies are in many ways owned by American investors) What the result would be is purely a political question instead of an economic one.



    Karen Ip, studied at University of Melbourne

    Within 20 years? Definitely no.

    1.No matter how much China will and has achieved, whenever you have to divide that amount into 1.4 billion, it will not be a huge number.

    2.The last recorded GDP per capita for Korea is USD26,152.03 in Y2017, whilst China is USD7329.09. South Korea is 3.56 times of GDP per capita of China.

    3.In Y2012, the Chinese government announced their target of doubling their GDP per capita based on GDP per capita in Y2010 (which is USD4,560.51) in Y2020. (That is, To reach USD9,121.02 per capita).

    4.Assuming Y2038 is the 20 years deadline, and China is able to double her GDP per capita every 10 years since Y2018 (which is unlikely because the economic growth rate is slowing down as it gets more developed), China’s GDP per capita will be around 31,075.34 — here is the most optimistic estimate.

    5.Korea GDP per capita with an assumption of a modest annual growth of 2% will reach USD38,860.54 20 years later.

    6.I think it will make more sense if one compare a large mega city in China ( like Shanghai, Shenzhen) to similar population of South Korea will be more appropriate measure.









    Jeff Lee, Truth Seeker

    Like Japan after World War II, China has gone from a nation of copycats of cheap consumer goods to innovators capable of building leading edge manufacturing plants. They resemble the potential of the USA in 1890, (a growing urban educated base, a new infrastructure, access to vast resources), capable of jumping 100 years of equivalent development in only 20 years.  In so doing, they will also grow a profitable consumer demand led economy, helping stabilizing it during any market downturn pressures experienced by the other developed economies. So, yes, I think China will likely outpace South Korea, but it may only get their in year 20.



    Jalil Abdullayev, knows Korean

    PPP gdp per capita of China is around 18000 while it is around 40000 for South Korea. So China needs to double its economy in 20 years. If current growth rate continues then China will more than exceed that.

    However, South Korea economy also grows and it could grow by 50% over 20 years.

    So I think China will not catch up in 20 years but it will come very close





    Kai Lee

    It's hard to happen. Unless South Korea is unified or war occurs. South Korea depends on the Chinese economy. Most of South Korea’s exports have gone to China. China's economic growth South Korea's economic growth. The Chinese economy has declined and the Korean economy has declined. China has too much population. But the first-tier cities like Beijing and Shanghai Shenzhou will surpass South Korea and even Seoul.



    William Hennigan, lived in China


    There certainly are some excellent rational answers below. But, there is a dramatic difference in culture and politics between Korea and China. Those factors will inhibit China. This is genuinely an apples to oranges situation.

    Everyone always projects into the future using straight lines, but it never is a straight line - for anybody.





    Richard Saw

    Both not and yes .

    not:The earth could not provide the west standard of the living for 1.4billions chinese .

    yes:But china could bring the west standard of living down to the level of china .

    GDP per capita would be the same,maybe china couldn't catch up with south korean,but china could bring the GDP per capita of korean down to the level of china .






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