Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science, International Politics

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Kenneth P. Thomas, Ph.D


Kenneth P. Thomas, Ph.D

J. Martin Rochester, Ph.D

David C. Kimball, Pd.D

Yuguo Liao, Ph.D


The decline of American economic power has been passionately debated for decades. Starting from the Kennedy administration, there were many cases that declinist scholars interpreted as the beginning of American economic power decline. The financial crisis of 2007-09 is the latest case of the same debate. However, unlike the previous cases, declinist scholars who support the idea of U.S. economic power is in decline after the financial crisis, strongly believe that this time the decline is different. This time the decline is real. In addition, the same scholars also argue that China, as an economic challenger which is different from previous contenders, will replace the U.S. as the world’s next economic superpower. All these concerns made this topic necessary to examine again. In that respect, this paper employs inductive and deductive analysis, scrutinizes qualitative and quantitative data and finds out whether U.S. economic power is in decline and whether China is replacing the U.S. as the world’s next economic superpower. In all, this paper’s results contradict the results of declinist scholars’ studies. For example, contrary to most of declinist scholars’ studies, which state that the financial crisis of 2007-09 created a situation that significantly undermined American economic power, this study finds out that U.S. economic power is not in long-term, fundamental and irreversible decline. It is in a relative decline, a decrease in relative external economic power, like the U.S. experienced several times in the past. From the same perspective, contrary to many declinist scholars who argue that China will displace the U.S. as the world’s next economic superpower, this study reveals that it will be very hard for China to continue its high-paced economic growth in the future. That means rather than displacing the U.S. as the world’s next economic superpower, China’s future will be more about dealing with its own economic problems.