Is America Heading toward Decline?

In recent years, much of research and analysis has investigated whether the U.S. is already on the decline and has even estimated when China can replace its global hegemony. The RAND Corporation, one of the world’s top research institutes, was commissioned by the Pentagon, and issued a 113-page report on U.S. national power entitled, “The Sources of Renewed National Dynamism.” The report points to the core of the problems in the U.S. with a frankness that is particularly noteworthy.

The U.S. has been a global power for 130 years. Whether it will follow the pattern of other great powers in history, flourishing for approximately 100 years before gradually declining, is a current topic of international discussion.

The RAND Corporation observed signs that indicate the U.S. is already exhibiting “relative” decline. It used the term “relative” because the U.S. remains the strongest country in the world — other countries are “catching up,” but the U.S. is not weakening.

External reasons for the narrowing gap between the U.S. and other countries include the rapid rise of China, which reduced China’s admiration of, and reliance on, the U.S. Internal reasons include declining productivity, an aging population and opposition between political parties.

Last year, Dow Jones reported that productivity growth was a key factor helping the U.S. become the world’s wealthiest nation after World War II. However, beginning in the 1970s, America’s productivity growth fell. From 2010 to 2022, its average annual growth was only 1.3%. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average annual growth rate from 2023 to 2027 is expected to be 0.4%, much smaller than China’s 3.5%.

Research from the McKinsey Global Institute indicates that if the U.S. can increase its productivity growth rate by 2030 to 2.2% — the level it was after World War I — it can hope to alleviate the problems of inflation and declining national strength.

Internal political opposition is clearly evident in events such as the current surging student protests and the Texas Nationalist Movement, which collected more than 100,000 signatures. Although the student protests aren’t as strong as the anti-war protests in the 1960s and Texas independence remains a castle in the air that will probably not materialize soon, against a backdrop of intense partisan opposition and the election at the year’s end, such events have intensified divisions and disputes in the U.S.

In light of the challenges and tests the U.S. faces, many research institutes, including the RAND Corporation, hope the elites and leaders in America will refocus internally and try to solve domestic problems. This is how to get to the root of the problems.

Unfortunately, regardless of whether it’s the Joe Biden administration or the challenging Donald Trump Republican camp, it looks like both are still spending their energy on external affairs. In addition to spending the people’s money on supporting Ukraine and Israel, they are continuing to enact various methods to suppress China.

For example, Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently visited Shanghai and Beijing at the end of April and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling on “the United States and China to handle their differences responsibly.” Unexpectedly, however, the Department of Commerce announced not long after that it was revoking the licenses Intel and Qualcomm use to export chips to Huawei, further suppressing Huawei. The U.S. has long had policies for suppressing China. Not only does this pressure Chinese companies in the short run, but it also motivates them to find breakthroughs to technological barriers and develop substitutions for things they once imported. In the middle- to long-run, this is actually bad for American companies. Policies such as these that hurt others without benefiting America need to be reexamined.

Although the RAND Corporation pointed out that America’s decline is accelerating, its report offered some optimistic conclusions. Currently, the U.S. still has the tools and resources needed to reverse the decline. However, this depends on whether leaders will make the correct historic choices.

About this publication

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply