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The impact of China's millennium labour restructuring program on firm performance and employee earnings

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  • Xiao-Yuan Dong
  • Lixin Colin Xu

Abstract

Around the turn of the century, China experienced perhaps the largest labour restructuring program in the world. This paper uses a new dataset of Chinese industrial enterprises to examine what leads to downsizing, and tries to understand the effects of labour downsizing on firms' technical efficiency, financial performance and employee wages. We find that downsizing is more prevalent in state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and is more likely when enterprises are older, larger and have higher excess capacity. For both SOEs and private firms, downsizing is more likely when the prices of their products drop, but private firms respond more dramatically. Moreover, downsizing has serious short-term costs in terms of total factor productivity (TFP). For mild downsizing, private firms suffer more deterioration in productivity. The distribution of surplus after downsizing is more favourable to labour in SOEs. For severe downsizing, both SOEs and private firms exhibit lower TFP growth with similar magnitudes. Our findings imply that private firms emphasize profit goals, while SOEs place a greater weight on labour protection. Copyright (c) 2008 The Authors.

Suggested Citation

  • Xiao-Yuan Dong & Lixin Colin Xu, 2008. "The impact of China's millennium labour restructuring program on firm performance and employee earnings," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(2), pages 223-245, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:etrans:v:16:y:2008:i:2:p:223-245
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Baily, Martin Neil & Bartelsman, Eric J & Haltiwanger, John, 1996. "Downsizing and Productivity Growth: Myth or Reality?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 8(4), pages 259-278, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dong, Xiao-yuan & Xu, Lixin Colin, 2009. "Labor restructuring in China: Toward a functioning labor market," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 287-305, June.
    2. Lixin Colin Xu, 2011. "The Effects of Business Environments on Development: Surveying New Firm-level Evidence," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 26(2), pages 310-340, August.
    3. repec:rss:jnljms:v1i5p4 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Dutz, Mark A. & Kessides, Ioannis & O'Connell, Stephen & Willig, Robert D., 2011. "Competition and innovation-driven inclusive growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5852, The World Bank.
    5. Wenshu Gao & Russell Smyth, 2012. "Returns to Schooling in Urban China, 2001-2010: Evidence from Three Waves of the China Urban Labor Survey," Monash Economics Working Papers 50-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    6. Sajid Anwar & Sizhong Sun, 2015. "Unionisation and Firm Performance in China’s Manufacturing Industries," Journal of Labor Research, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 78-102, March.
    7. Pandey, Manish & Dong, Xiao-yuan, 2009. "Manufacturing productivity in China and India: The role of institutional changes," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 754-766, December.
    8. Linda Yueh, 2010. "The Economy of China," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 3705.

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