Comparing America’s 20 Richest Cities to China’s

The last two decades have marked a period of swift economic advancement in China. From 2001 to 2021, China’s gross domestic product expanded by over 1,200%, soaring from $1.34 trillion to $17.73 trillion in current U.S. dollars. Simultaneously, the percentage of the Chinese populace living in poverty – defined as earning less than $5.50 U.S. dollars daily – dwindled from 86.9% to under 25%..

The momentum in Chinese GDP growth stemmed from a sequence of economic overhauls instigated in 1979. These adjustments led to heightened capital investment and enhancements in efficiency. However, despite positioning itself among the globe’s speediest expanding economies, China remains notably distant from the United States in GDP per capita, one gauge of personal prosperity.

Even in China’s most affluent metropolises, the quality of life significantly trails that of America’s most prosperous cities, although several cities are starting to narrow the gap.

Using data from Sina Finance, the China Statistical Yearbook 2022, and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 24/7 Wall St. compared GDP in the 20 wealthiest Chinese and the 20 wealthiest American metropolitan. GDP is expressed in 2021 U.S. dollars. 24/7 Wall St. also calculated GDP per capita for each city.

Each of the 20 wealthiest U.S. cities by GDP has greater overall economic output than its Chinese counterpart, by anywhere from about 21% to nearly 200% higher. Additionally, with only a handful of exceptions, the 20 wealthiest American cities have a smaller population base than the comparably ranked Chinese city. (Here is a look at the richest county in every state.)

As a result, Americans living in the wealthiest U.S. cities are, on average, more prosperous than the Chinese residing in China’s wealthiest cities. Among the 20 U.S. cities on this list, GDP per capita ranges from $45,815 to $210,236. Meanwhile, GDP per capita in the 20 Chinese cities on this list ranges from $17,638 to $65,466. 

Only two of China’s wealthiest cities have a higher GDP per capita than their comparably ranked American metro. Fuzhou, Fujian, the 20th wealthiest city in China, and Wuxi, Jiangsu, the 14th wealthiest Chinese city, have a higher GDP per capita than Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, California and Phoenix-Mesa-Chandler, Arizona, the 20th and 14th wealthiest American cities, respectively. (Here is a look at the 27 poorest nations on Earth.)

Click here to see how the richest Chinese cities compare to US.

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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