IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

The Sources and Sustainability of China's Economic Growth


  • Gary H. Jefferson

    (Brandeis University)

  • Albert G. Z. Hu

    (National University of Singapore)

  • Jian Su

    (Peking University)


China’s economic transformation is proceeding at different rates across different regions and sectors, and China’s most advanced regional sector, coastal industry, still lags well behind the world’s technology frontier. This paper explores the implications of these internal and international productivity disparities for China’s ability to sustain rapid economic growth. When China’s GDP catches up to U.S. GDP, Chinese living standards still will be only one quarter those of the United States. If, at that time, productivity in some major regions and sectors remains far below the average, coastal industry may have to achieve productivity that approaches or even exceeds U.S. productivity. Coastal industry’s productivity growth is then likely to slow substantially, impeding China’s overall economic growth. The paper examines the need for policies that facilitate economic integration across regions, to enable the lagging regions and sectors to catch up to coastal industry, and the prospects for continued institutional reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary H. Jefferson & Albert G. Z. Hu & Jian Su, 2006. "The Sources and Sustainability of China's Economic Growth," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 37(2), pages 1-60.
  • Handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:37:y:2006:i:2006-2:p:1-60

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Barry Naughton, 2007. "The Chinese Economy: Transitions and Growth," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262640643, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Straub, Roland & Thimann, Christian, 2010. "The external and domestic side of macroeconomic adjustment in China," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(5), pages 425-444, October.
    2. Andersson, Fredrik N.G. & Edgerton, David L. & Opper, Sonja, 2013. "A Matter of Time: Revisiting Growth Convergence in China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 239-251.
    3. Su, Jian & Jefferson, Gary H., 2012. "Differences in returns to FDI between China's coast and interior: One country, two economies?," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 259-269.
    4. Lu, Zheng & Deng, Xiang, 2011. "China's Western Development Strategy: Policies, Effects and Prospects," MPRA Paper 35201, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Virginie JACQUIER-ROUX & Christian LE BAS, 2008. "Localisation Des Activités De R&D Des Firmes Multinationales, Modes D’Organisation En Réseaux Et Transfert Transnational Des Connaissances : Un Cadre D’Analyse," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, vol. 28, pages 11-38.
    6. Dobson, Wendy & Masson, Paul R., 2009. "Will the renminbi become a world currency?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 124-135, March.
    7. George M. von Furstenberg, 2007. "Aspects, Models and Measures for Assessing the Competitiveness of International Financial Services in a Particular Location," Working Papers 182007, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
    8. repec:ura:ecregj:v:1:y:2017:i:3:p:789-802 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Paul D. Deng & Gary H. Jefferson, 2011. "Explaining Spatial Convergence of China's Industrial Productivity," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 73, pages 818-832, December.
    10. Gunby, Philip & Jin, Yinghua & Robert Reed, W., 2017. "Did FDI Really Cause Chinese Economic Growth? A Meta-Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 242-255.
    11. Guillaumont Jeanneney, Sylviane & Hua, Ping, 2011. "How does real exchange rate influence labour productivity in China?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 628-645.
    12. Linda Yueh, 2008. "How Productive is Chinese Labour? The Contributions of Labour Market Reforms, Competition and Globalisation," Economics Series Working Papers 418, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    13. Dobson, Wendy & Safarian, A.E., 2008. "The transition from imitation to innovation: An enquiry into China's evolving institutions and firm capabilities," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 301-311, August.
    14. Minzhe Du & Bing Wang & Yanrui Wu, 2014. "Sources of China’s Economic Growth: An Empirical Analysis Based on the BML Index with Green Growth Accounting," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(9), pages 1-22, September.
    15. Fisher-Vanden, Karen & Jefferson, Gary H., 2008. "Technology diversity and development: Evidence from China's industrial enterprises," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 658-672, December.

    More about this item


    China; macroeconomics; economic growth; China GDP;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:bin:bpeajo:v:37:y:2006:i:2006-2:p:1-60. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jennifer Ambrosino). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.