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Market reforms and consumption puzzles in China

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  • Qi, Li
  • Prime, Penelope B.

Abstract

China exhibits above average savings and below average consumption as shares of total economic activity when compared with other countries. At the same time, to create more balanced growth at home and rebalance key bilateral trade and capital flow relationships, China's leadership is trying to increase domestic demand. To complement studies that investigate the high rate of savings in China, this study focuses on the variation in consumption as a share of GDP across provinces between 1979 and 2004. Drawing on well-established consumption theories and work done on savings behavior in China, this paper develops an empirical investigation of the variables hypothesized to influence the pattern of consumption across regions. We find that the normal, economic variables have a small explanatory power if significant at all, while the key variables influencing the macro consumption share are structural, and mostly related to government behavior. For example, local government expenditure on health and education is significant and has a relatively large effect on consumption. Consistent with this we also find a positive relationship between consumption shares and the size of the state sector and the share of tax revenue in GDP. We also find some evidence that financial development has a positive effect on consumption shares. Our results suggest that in order for domestic consumption to be increased in the future, new public and private options to replace the declining security and responsibility of the prior state-dominated system will be needed.

Suggested Citation

  • Qi, Li & Prime, Penelope B., 2009. "Market reforms and consumption puzzles in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 388-401, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:20:y:2009:i:3:p:388-401
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. van Treeck, Till. & Sturn, Simon., 2012. "Income inequality as a cause of the Great Recession? : A survey of current debates," ILO Working Papers 994709343402676, International Labour Organization.
    2. Fernando Alexandre & Carmen Mendes, 2011. "Growth, Competition and Political Stability in China," NIPE Working Papers 28/2011, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    3. Bonatti, Luigi & Fracasso, Andrea, 2013. "Regime switches in the Sino-American co-dependency: Growth and structural change in China," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 1-32.
    4. Shenglong Liu & Angang Hu, 2013. "Household Saving in China: The Keynesian Hypothesis, Life-Cycle Hypothesis, and Precautionary Saving Theory," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 51(4), pages 360-387, December.
    5. Rohman, Ibrahim Kholilul & Bohlin, Erik, 2014. "Decomposition analysis of the telecommunications sector in Indonesia: What does the cellular era shed light on?," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 248-263.
    6. Shaojie Zhou & Junsen Zhang, 2016. "Chinese Saving Rates from 1953 to 2012: Trends, Compositions and Prospects," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(2), pages 227-252, May.
    7. Manoel Bittencourt & Chance Mwabutwa & Nicola Viegi, 2012. "Financial Reforms and Consumption Behaviour in Malawi," Working Papers 201210, University of Pretoria, Department of Economics.

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