The U.S. Is the World’s Biggest Economy, but These Countries Will Win by 2050

Michael Scott holds up a paper that says "China is on the move"

Michael Scott of The Office comes to a horrible realization regarding the economy. | NBC

America’s still No. 1, baby. Well, for now.

Growing up, particularly for those of us born in the post-World War II era, means you’re exposed to a concept of “American exceptionalism.” Essentially, it’s the idea the United States is No. 1, and you shouldn’t forget it. But, like any other country, we grapple with our darker nature, too. Still, if you were to pull up a list ranking the world’s nations in most categories, the U.S. typically makes an appearance.

Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it’s ugly. But the U.S. is almost always there.

One list on which the U.S. has ranked at the top for a long time details the world’s largest economies. The U.S. economy — though on shaky ground for many years — is currently the world’s biggest. We create a lot of goods and services. And many, if not most, of the world’s technologies are birthed right here in America.

But our days as the top economy are numbered. The U.S. will be surpassed by other nations. Some will accomplish it through sheer manpower. Others will embrace economic systems and technologies they’ve long shunned. It could happen in a relatively short period. In all likelihood, the U.S. will be passed by 2050, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

How will the world change between now and then? And which countries will win by 2050? First, let’s look at the world’s current (2017) largest economies with data from the World Bank and World Economic Forum. Then, we’ll fast-forward to 2050 to see how America loses the top spot.

5. The UK

The London skyline

The London skyline | Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The United Kingdom is the world’s fifth-largest economy. The U.K. has had a good run over the past several centuries. And it makes up 3.85% of the global economy with a GDP of $2.9 trillion as of 2015. But come 2050, the U.K. will take a tumble out of the top five, and according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers, it could wind up all the way down at the 10th spot — supplanted by countries, such as Mexico and Turkey.

4. Germany

The Berlin skyline

The Berlin skyline | John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images

Germany’s GDP, as of 2015, was $3.4 trillion. That’s good enough to make it the world’s fourth-largest economy, making up 4.5% of the global total. But like the U.K., Germany is set to be overtaken over the next several decades by other emerging countries — particularly those with growing (or already large) populations. That includes countries, such as Vietnam and Mexico.

3. Japan

Visitors explore Sensoji Temple

Visitors explore the Sensoji Temple. | iStock.com/SeanPavonePhoto

The Japanese economy makes up 5.9% of the world’s total, with a GDP of $4.4 trillion in 2015. Japan has had a meteoric rise on the global stage, especially after the nation was decimated following World War II. But others are catching up, and by 2050, Japan is expected to drop to the seventh spot with countries, such as Mexico and Russia, leapfrogging it.

2. China

a man holds an umbrella in China

A man holds an umbrella in China. | Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

The Chinese truly are a sleeping giant. China is a massive country — both geographically and in terms of population — and it still has yet to come close to realizing its full economic potential. As of 2015, China’s GDP of $11 trillion makes up 14.8% of the global total. The Chinese have yet to kick things into fifth-gear, however, and once they do, they’ll reshape the list.

1. The United States

Amerian flag pickup truck

This truck loves America. | Carl’s Jr.

That’s right. America stands supreme — economically speaking, anyway — right now.

The U.S. economy is larger than the combined economies of the entire top 10, sans China. It’s big. It makes up roughly a quarter of the world’s total at 24.32%. Its GDP is $18 trillion. But, as we know, other countries are nipping at its heels. But which ones? We’ll see.

Now, here is how analysts from PricewaterhouseCoopers expect things to change between now and 2050.

5. Brazil

Lightning above Rio

Lightning above Rio | Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Come 2050, Brazil will have harnessed enough economic power to propel itself into the top five. Currently, Brazil ranks as the world’s ninth-largest economy with a GDP of $1.8 trillion, good for 2.4% of the world’s total. But this Latin American powerhouse will jump over the U.K., Germany, and Japan over the next few decades to become the fifth largest.

4. Indonesia

surfers on the beach in Bali

Tourists walk along Kuta beach during sunset in Indonesia. | Bay Ismoyo/AFP/GettyImages

If there’s one country on this list you probably didn’t anticipate, it’s Indonesia. As of 2015, Indonesia only made up 1.86% of the global economy. That’s not even within the top 10. But the winds of change will apparently sweep through the South Pacific, at least according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. This country of 250 million will find its economic legs and become a true power over a relatively short period of time.

3. The United States

School children pledge allegiance to the flag

School children pledge allegiance to the flag. | William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

It’s not necessarily that the experts at PricewaterhouseCoopers see America flying off the rails at some point in the next few decades. It’s more that there are two giants waiting in the wings, which have yet to reach their full potential. That’s why, by 2050, the PricewaterhouseCoopers report sees America falling to the third spot.

The two countries that are set to overtake America? Let’s take a look …

2. India

cycle rickshaw in Jaipur, India on a sunny day

A rickshaw in India | iStock.com

As you might have guessed, India will make some big moves on the global stage over the next few decades. Like China, it’s a massive country with a population of more than 1.2 billion people. As of 2015, it was the world’s seventh-largest economy with a GDP of only $2.1 trillion, good for 2.8% of the global total. But that’s going to grow exponentially in coming years, propelling India past the United States to become the world’s second-largest economy.

1. China

A Chinese man adjusts a Chinese flag, situated next to an American flag

A man adjusts a Chinese flag, situated next to an American flag. | Feng Li/Getty Images

We hinted at it, and it’s true: China will be the world’s largest economy by 2050. The Chinese economy is already very large, and it’s going to keep growing. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, China’s projected share of the world’s GDP is expected to break the 20% mark. That would mean some serious growth and is one of the reasons the Chinese economy is so attractive to businesses and investors.

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