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Explaining China's Low Consumption: The Neglected Role of Household Income

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  • Jahangir Aziz
  • Li Cui
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    Abstract

    The Chinese government has recently focused on the need to increase consumption to rebalance the economy. A widely held view is that despite China's remarkably high growth, the share of consumption in total expenditure has been low and declining due to high and rising saving rate of Chinese households as uncertainty over provision of pensions, and healthcare and education costs have increased since the mid-1990s. This paper finds that the rise in saving rate has been a minor factor. Much larger has been the role of the declining share of household income in national income, which has occurred across-the-board in wages, investment income, and government transfers. The paper finds that financial sector weaknesses, by restricting firms' access to bank financing for working capital, have played quantitatively a major role in keeping wage and investment income shares low and on a declining trend.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 07/181.

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    Length: 36
    Date of creation: 01 Jul 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:07/181

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    Related research

    Keywords: Income; Economic growth;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    References

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    1. Blanchard, Olivier J & Giavazzi, Francesco, 2006. "Rebalancing Growth in China: A Three-Handed Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 5403, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Prasad, Eswar & Rajan, Raghuram G., 2006. "Modernizing China's Growth Paradigm," IZA Discussion Papers 2248, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Douglas Gollin, 2001. "Getting Income Shares Right," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-11, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    4. Brown, J. David & Earle, John S. & Lup, Dana, 2004. "What Makes Small Firms Grow? Finance, Human Capital, Technical Assistance, and the Business Environment in Romania," IZA Discussion Papers 1343, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Richard Rogerson, 2010. "Indivisible Labor, Lotteries and Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 250, David K. Levine.
    6. Franco Modigliani & Shi Larry Cao, 2004. "The Chinese Saving Puzzle and the Life-Cycle Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(1), pages 145-170, March.
    7. Steven M. Fazzari & Bruce C. Petersen, 1993. "Working Capital and Fixed Investment: New Evidence on Financing Constraints," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 24(3), pages 328-342, Autumn.
    8. Keiichiro Kobayashi & Masaru Inaba, 2006. "Borrowing constraints and protracted recessions," Discussion papers 06011, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    9. Einarsson, Tor & Marquis, Milton H, 2001. "Bank Intermediation over the Business Cycle," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(4), pages 876-99, November.
    10. Aart Kraay, 2000. "Household Saving in China," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 14(3), pages 545-570, September.
    11. Simon Johnson & John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 2000. "Entrepreneurs and the Ordering of Institutional Reform: Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Russia and Ukraine Compared," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 8(1), pages 1-36, March.
    12. Gary Hansen, 2010. "Indivisible Labor and the Business Cycle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 233, David K. Levine.
    13. Kuijs, Louis, 2005. "Investment and saving in China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3633, The World Bank.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:
    1. Gu, Xinhua & Tam, Pui Sun, 2013. "The saving–growth–inequality triangle in China," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 850-857.
    2. Tomoyuki Fukumoto & Ichiro Muto, 2012. "Rebalancing China's Economic Growth: Some Insights from Japan's Experience," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 20(1), pages 62-82, 01.
    3. Rod Tyers & Ling Huang, 2009. "Combating China’s Export Contraction: Fiscal Expansion or Accelerated Industrial Reform?," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 09-15, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    4. Robert C. Feenstra & Chang Hong, 2010. "China's Exports and Employment," NBER Chapters, in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 167-199 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Weber, Christopher L. & Peters, Glen P. & Guan, Dabo & Hubacek, Klaus, 2008. "The contribution of Chinese exports to climate change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 3572-3577, September.
    6. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2009. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," NBER Working Papers 15093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Arslan Razmi, 2008. "Is the Chinese Investment- and Export-Led Growth Model Sustainable? Some Rising Concerns," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2008-09, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    8. Rod Tyers, 2008. "Competition Policy, Corporate Saving and China's Current Account Surplus," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2008-496, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    9. C Niranjan Rao, 2008. "The Role of Intellectual Property Rights in Information and Communication Technologies," Working Papers id:1742, eSocialSciences.
    10. Mayer, Jörg, 2012. "Global rebalancing: Effects on trade and employment," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 627-642.
    11. Jahangir Aziz, 2008. "Real and Financial Sector Linkages in China and India," IMF Working Papers 08/95, International Monetary Fund.
    12. Jahangir Aziz, 2008. "Deconstructing China’s and India’s Growth: The Role of Financial Policies," Working Papers id:1714, eSocialSciences.

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