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Labor market developments in China: A neoclassical view

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  • Ge, Suqin
  • Yang, Dennis Tao

Abstract

This paper assesses the applicability of two alternative theories in understanding labor market developments in China: the classical view featuring a Lewis turning point in wage growth versus a neoclassical framework emphasizing rational choices of individuals and equilibrating forces of the market. Empirical evidence based on multiple data sources fails to validate the arrival of the Lewis turning point in China, showing continuous and coordinated wage growth across rural and urban sectors instead. Consistent with the neoclassical view, we find that rural workers expanded off-farm work when mobility restrictions were lifted, interprovincial migration responded to expected earnings and local employment conditions, and returns to education converged gradually to the international standard. These findings suggest major progresses in the integration of labor markets in China.

Suggested Citation

  • Ge, Suqin & Yang, Dennis Tao, 2011. "Labor market developments in China: A neoclassical view," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 611-625.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:22:y:2011:i:4:p:611-625
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2011.07.003
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. Bonatti, Luigi & Fracasso, Andrea, 2013. "Hoarding of international reserves in China: Mercantilism, domestic consumption and US monetary policy," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 1044-1078.
    3. Suqin Ge & Dennis Tao Yang, 2014. "Changes In China'S Wage Structure," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 12(2), pages 300-336, April.
    4. Nathalie Chusseau & Joël Hellier, 2012. "Inequality in Emerging Countries," Working Papers hal-00993411, HAL.
    5. Jeffrey Zax, 2016. "Provincial valuations of human capital in urban China, inter-regional inequality and the implicit value of a Guangdong hukou," ERSA conference papers ersa16p693, European Regional Science Association.
    6. Damien Cubizol, 2017. "Transition and capital misallocation: the Chinese case," Working Papers halshs-01176919, HAL.
    7. Vinod Mishra & Russell Smyth, 2012. "Returns to Schooling in Urban China: New Evidence Using Heteroskedasticity Restrictions to Obtain Identification Without Exclusion Restrictions," Monash Economics Working Papers 33-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    8. Du, Julan & Fang, Hongsheng & Jin, Xiangrong, 2014. "The “growth-first strategy” and the imbalance between consumption and investment in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 441-458.
    9. Fleisher, Belton M. & McGuire, William H. & Smith, Adam Nicholas & Zhou, Mi, 2015. "Knowledge capital, innovation, and growth in China," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 31-42.
    10. Ohyun Kwon & Simon Chang & Belton M. Fleisher, 2015. "Evolution of the Interindustry Wage Structure in China Since the 1980s," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 17-44, February.
    11. Yinhua Mai & Xiujian Peng & Peter Dixon & Maureen Rimmer, 2014. "The economic effects of facilitating the flow of rural workers to urban employment in China," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(3), pages 619-642, August.
    12. Binkai Chen & Ming Lu & Ninghua Zhong, 2012. "Hukou and Consumption Heterogeneity: Migrants' Expenditure Is Depressed by Institutional Constraints in Urban China," Global COE Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series gd11-221, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    13. 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.
    14. repec:eee:jimfin:v:81:y:2018:i:c:p:88-115 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Andrea Fracasso, 2015. "Economic Rebalancing and Growth: the Japanese experience and China’s prospects," DEM Discussion Papers 2015/07, Department of Economics and Management.
    16. Castro Campos, Bente & Ren, Yanjun & Petrick, Martin, 2016. "The impact of education on income inequality between ethnic minorities and Han in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 253-267.
    17. Mishra, Vinod & Smyth, Russell, 2015. "Estimating returns to schooling in urban China using conventional and heteroskedasticity-based instruments," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 166-173.
    18. Mishra, Vinod & Smyth, Russell, 2013. "Economic returns to schooling for China's Korean minority," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 89-102.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Labor markets; Rural–urban migration; Wage growth; Lewis turning point; China;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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