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The role of social capital in the labour market in China


  • John Knight
  • Linda Yueh


Social capital is considered to play an economic role in labour markets. It may be particularly pertinent in one that is in transition from an administered to a market-oriented system. One factor that may determine success in the underdeveloped Chinese labour market is thus "guanxi", the Chinese variant of social capital. With individual-level measures of social capital, we test for the role of "guanxi" using a dataset designed for this purpose, covering 7,500 urban workers and conducted in early 2000. The evidence is consistent with the basic hypothesis. Both measures of social capital - size of social network and Communist Party membership - have significant and substantial coefficients in the income functions. Social capital can have influence either in an administered system or in one subject to market forces. It appears to do so in both parts of the labour market. Copyright (c) 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation (c) 2008 The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Suggested Citation

  • John Knight & Linda Yueh, 2008. "The role of social capital in the labour market in China," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 16(3), pages 389-414, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:etrans:v:16:y:2008:i:3:p:389-414

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Knight, John & Song, Lina, 1999. "The Rural-Urban Divide: Economic Disparities and Interactions in China," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293309, June.
    2. Montgomery, James D, 1991. "Social Networks and Labor-Market Outcomes: Toward an Economic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1407-1418, December.
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    9. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
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    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J40 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - General


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