Why the West is losing out to the rest By Niall Ferguson November 3, 2011 -- Updated 1826 GMT (0226 HKT) Ferguson is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a senior research fellow of Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. (CNN) -- It says it all when Europe turns to China for a bailout. That was what happened last week when the man in charge of the European Financial Stability Fund flew to Beijing to see if he could interest Chinese investors in propping up the finances of the eurozone. How the mighty are fallen. Thirty-five years ago the average German was roughly 15 times richer than the average Chinese. Today the ratio is less than 3-to-1. Back in 1980 the Chinese economy accounted for just 2.2% of global economic output, one third the size of Germany's share. By 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund, the Chinese share will be 18%, six times larger than Germany's. We are living through an extraordinary reversal of economic fortunes after 500 years when the big story was what historians call "the great divergence." Beginning in 1500, Europeans and European settlers in North America began to get richer than Asians (and everyone else, too). The gap between the "West and the Rest" widened at an accelerating rate until the later 1970s. But then -- on our watch -- that trend went into high-speed reverse. Ask yourself: Who's got the work ethic now? The average South Korean works about 39% more hours per week than the average American. The consumer society? Did you know that 26 of the 30 biggest shopping malls in the world are now in emerging markets, mostly in Asia? Only three are in the United States. The rule of law? For a real eye-opener, take a look at the latest World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey. On no fewer than 15 of 16 different issues relating to property rights and governance, the United States fares worse than Hong Kong. What about science? Statistics from the World Intellectual Property Organization show that already more patents originate in Japan than in the United States, that South Korea overtook Germany to take third place in 2005, and that China is poised to overtake Germany, too. Read more : http://edition.cnn.com/2011/11/03/opinion/ferguson-west-economic-decline/index.html What do you think? Is Niall Ferguson's analysis right?