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Understanding Chinese Consumption: The Impact of Hukou

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  • Christian Dreger
  • Tongsan Wang
  • Yanqun Zhang

Abstract

type="main"> Since the onset of the economic reforms more than three decades ago, the Chinese growth miracle has been based on exports and investment. While strong output growth was maintained even during the financial crisis, imbalances within the country increased. To return to a more sustainable development path, recent government policies have aimed to improve the role of private consumption. This article argues that China's institutional framework is an impediment to this strategy, as it weakens the incentives of households to consume. As well as a low level of social security and highly regulated financial markets, the authors stress the relevance of the hukou system as the main driver for modest consumption, especially in recent years. After controlling for different income levels, the average propensity to consume is found to be significantly lower for migrants, as their access to public services is limited. If not accompanied by relevant reforms, the urbanization strategy of the government is likely to raise the number of migrants with limited hukou rights, further increasing the downward pressure on consumption. Therefore, in the absence of reforms in the household registration system, the shift towards consumption-driven growth is at risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Dreger & Tongsan Wang & Yanqun Zhang, 2015. "Understanding Chinese Consumption: The Impact of Hukou," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 46(6), pages 1331-1344, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:devchg:v:46:y:2015:i:6:p:1331-1344
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    Cited by:

    1. Dreger, Christian & Zhang, Yanqun, 2017. "The Hukou Impact on the Chinese Wage Structure," IZA Discussion Papers 10720, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Chen, Xiaofen, 2018. "Why do migrant households consume so little?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 197-209.
    3. Dreger, Christian & Zhang, Yanqun, 2014. "Does the economic integration of China affect growth and inflation in industrial countries?," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 184-189.
    4. Cheng, Zhiming, 2021. "Education and consumption: Evidence from migrants in Chinese cities," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 206-215.
    5. Ekaterina Arapova, 2018. "Determinants Of Household Final Consumption Expenditures In Asian Countries: A Panel Model, 1991-2015," Applied Econometrics and International Development, Euro-American Association of Economic Development, vol. 18(1), pages 121-140.
    6. Bradlow, Benjamin H., 2018. "Embeddedness and Cohesion: Regimes of Urban Public Goods Distribution," SocArXiv h39jw, Center for Open Science.
    7. Robert J R Elliott & Puyang Sun & Tong Zhu, 2014. "Urbanization and Energy Intensity: A Province-level Study for China," Discussion Papers 14-05, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    8. Carl Lin & Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, 2019. "Parental Migration Decisions and Child Health Outcomes: Evidence from China," Research in Labor Economics, in: Solomon W. Polachek & Konstantinos Tatsiramos (ed.), Health and Labor Markets, volume 47, pages 281-310, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    9. Elliott, Robert J.R. & Sun, Puyang & Zhu, Tong, 2017. "The direct and indirect effect of urbanization on energy intensity: A province-level study for China," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 677-692.
    10. Yang, Ziyan, 2020. "Contract design in China’s rural land rental market: Contractual flexibility and rental payments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 178(C), pages 15-43.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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