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Rising Wages: Has China Lost Its Global Labor Advantage?

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Author Info

  • Dennis Tao Yang

    (Chinese University of Hong Kong/ The Conference Board)

  • Vivian Chen

    (The Conference Board)

  • Ryan Monarch

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

We document dramatic rising wages in China for the period 1978–2007 based on multiple sources of aggregate statistics. Although real wages increased seven-fold during the period, growth was uneven across ownership types, industries and regions. In the last decade, the wages of state-owned enterprises increased rapidly and wage disparities between skill-intensive and labour-intensive industries widened. Comparisons of international data show that China’s manufacturing wage has already converged to that of Asian emerging markets, but China still enjoys enormous labour cost advantages over its neighbouring developed economies. Our analysis suggests that China’s wage growth will stabilize to a moderate pace in the near future.

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File URL: http://www.conference-board.org/economics/workingpapers.cfm?pdf=E-0043-09-WP
File Function: First version, 2009
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Conference Board, Economics Program in its series Economics Program Working Papers with number 09-03.

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Length: 38
Date of creation: Mar 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cnf:wpaper:0903

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References

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  1. Meng,Xin, 2000. "Labour Market Reform in China," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521771269, December.
  2. Fleisher, Belton M. & Peter, Klara Sabirianova & Wang, Xiaojun, 2004. "Returns to Skills and the Speed of Reforms: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe, China, and Russia," IZA Discussion Papers 1182, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Kanbur, Ravi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2004. "Fifty Years of Regional Inequality in China: A Journey through Central Planning, Reform, and Openness," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  4. Zhang, Junsen & Zhao, Yaohui & Park, Albert & Song, Xiaoqing, 2005. "Economic returns to schooling in urban China, 1988 to 2001," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 730-752, December.
  5. Psacharopoulos, George & Patrinos, Harry Anthony, 2002. "Returns to investment in education : a further update," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2881, The World Bank.
  6. Richard B. Freeman & Remco Oostendorp, 2000. "Wages Around the World: Pay Across Occupations and Countries," NBER Working Papers 8058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Giles, John & Park, Albert & Zhang, Juwei, 2005. "What is China's true unemployment rate?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 149-170.
  8. John Knight & Jinjun Xue, 2006. "How High is Urban Unemployment in China?," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 91-107.
  9. Yang, Dennis Tao, 2002. "What has caused regional inequality in China?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 331-334, December.
  10. Yang, Dennis Tao, 2005. "Determinants of schooling returns during transition: Evidence from Chinese cities," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 244-264, June.
  11. Guanghua Wan & Ming Lu & Zhao Chen, 2007. "Globalization And Regional Income Inequality: Empirical Evidence From Within China," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(1), pages 35-59, 03.
  12. Haiyan Deng & Robert H. McGuckin & John C. Haltiwanger & Xu Jianyi & Liu Yaodong & Liu Yuqi, 2007. "The Contribution of Restructuring and Reallocation to China's Productivity and Growth," Economics Program Working Papers 07-04, The Conference Board, Economics Program.
  13. John Giles & Albert Park & Fang Cai, 2003. "How has Economic Restructuring Affected China’s Urban Workers?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-628, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  14. Dong, Xiao-Yuan & Putterman, Louis, 2003. "Soft budget constraints, social burdens, and labor redundancy in China's state industry," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 110-133, March.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Mayer, Jörg, 2012. "Global rebalancing: Effects on trade and employment," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 627-642.
  2. Dennis Tao Yang & Junsen Zhang & Shaojie Zhou, 2011. "Why Are Saving Rates so High in China?," NBER Working Papers 16771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Kang, Lili & Peng, Fei, 2011. "A selection analysis on education returns in China," MPRA Paper 38704, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Le Wang, 2013. "How Does Education Affect the Earnings Distribution in Urban China?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 75(3), pages 435-454, 06.
  5. Carsten A Holz & Aaron Mehrotra, 2013. "Wage and price dynamics in a large emerging economy: The case of China," BIS Working Papers 409, Bank for International Settlements.
  6. Kang, Lili & Peng, Fei, 2013. "Economic Reform and Productivity Convergence in China," MPRA Paper 50810, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Janet Ceglowski & Stephen Golub, 2011. "Does China Still Have a Labor Cost Advantage?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3579, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Dong He & Wenlang Zhang & Gaofeng Han & Tommy Wu, 2012. "Productivity Growth of the Non-Tradable Sectors in China," Working Papers 082012, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
  9. Ramkishen S. Rajan & Javier Beverinotti, . "The Real Exchange Rate, Sectoral Allocation and Development in China and East Asia: A Simple Exposition," MPDD Working Paper Series WP/10/09, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

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