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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 07:16 GMT 08:16 UK
China set to be largest economy
Chinese steel worker
China's economy is being tipped for the top spot in 20 years
China is set to become the world's biggest economy by 2026 according to a poll conducted on behalf of the BBC.

And India is poised to take over fourth place behind the US and Japan. Only 1% of respondents felt the UK would be the world's leading economy in 20 years.

India's infrastructure problems and scarcity of resources were seen as putting it at a disadvantage to China.

The findings contradict a Goldman Sachs projection of the world's economies which had the US in top place in 2026.

Large populations

A total of 41% of respondents in the BBC World Poll, powered by GMI, had China in top spot by 2026, 35% plumped for the US, 10% chose Japan, and 6% favoured India.

Participants were asked to nominate what they thought would be the biggest assets in the growth of the Chinese and Indian economies.

The large populations of both were seen as being assets, even though some economists have said India may gain a bigger advantage from population size when the effects of China's one-child policy start to have a greater impact.

Labour costs were also significant assets for the two nations, according to the poll.

Corruption fears

Other potential problems seen as holding back Chinese economic growth were overbearing bureaucracy and corruption.

While India got marks for its democratic system and language skills, India was seen as having deeper problems than China, with more than 80% of respondents pointing to the country's "top three impediments".

These were: lack of infrastructure, economic instability, and scarcity of resources.

The online survey was completed by 9,503 people in 10 countries, in their native language, during April.

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