Sunday, May 12, 2024

Why the US leads China, EU in economic dynamism

QUESTION TO CLAUDE 3:  The EU and China lag behind the US in economic dynamism, measured by start-up activity, number of unicorns, age of unicorns (younger indicates more rapid innovation), and in productivity growth. Can you document this and tell me why?

ANSWER:  Here is the data to document the economic dynamism gap between the US, EU, and China, along with some key reasons behind it:

Start-up Activity:

  • The US had over 63,000 startups in 2020, compared to around 37,000 in the EU and 25,000 in China. The US accounted for over 50% of global venture capital investment.

Unicorns (private companies valued at $1B+):

  • As of 2023, the US has 704 unicorns, China has 258, and the EU has 139. The total value of US unicorns is $2.4 trillion vs. $862 billion for China and $449 billion for the EU.
  • The US represents 51% of the world's unicorns by number and 65% by valuation. China and the EU lag significantly behind.

Age of Unicorns:

  • The median age of US unicorns is 7 years vs. 9 years for Chinese unicorns, indicating more recent startup success in the US. [Claude 3 unable to find data on EU unicorns]

Productivity Growth (average annual labor productivity growth 2010-2019):

  • US: 1.0%
  • EU: 0.7%
  • China: 7.1% (but from a much lower base)

Key Reasons for the US Lead:

  1. Larger, more developed venture capital and private equity industry in the US fueling more startup investment. US VC deal value was 5-7X higher than China and the EU in recent years.
  2. US equity markets provide better exit opportunities for startups via IPOs. US represented over 60% of global IPO proceeds in 2021.
  3. Huge US domestic market enables startups to scale quickly. EU is fragmented across countries and China's market is difficult for foreign firms.
  4. Top US universities and companies attract global talent. Over 50% of US unicorn founders are immigrants.
  5. Historically strong intellectual property protections, rule of law, and business-friendly regulations in the US encourage innovation and risk-taking.
  6. Deeply rooted culture of entrepreneurship and risk-taking in the US compared to more risk-averse cultures in the EU and China's state-led system.

While China leads on productivity growth, this is largely due to catch-up growth from a low base. On most measures of economic dynamism, especially in the innovation economy, the US maintains a substantial lead over the EU and China as of 2023. But the gap has been narrowing over time.

Economist: America is in the midst of an extraordinary startup boom


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