How does real exchange rate influence labour productivity in China?
Since China's transition to a market economy, the labour productivity growth has been dramatically rapid, in particular since 1994. This speeding up has been accompanied by the reverse of the exchange rate policy of China, which has strongly depreciated its currency before 1994, and then either appreciated or stabilized it. The theoretical arguments suggesting several kinds of real exchange rate impact on labour productivity are developed. An econometric model is then proposed and estimated, using panel data for the twenty-nine Chinese provinces and for the period from 1986 to 2007. The econometric results show that the appreciation of the real exchange rate had a favourable effect on the labour productivity growth, leading to a kind of virtuous circle: the real appreciation of the currency boosts the growth of labour productivity while, according to the Balassa–Samuelson effect, productivity growth tends to push up the real appreciation. Moreover, this favourable effect is stronger in inland provinces than in coastal provinces, contributing to a minimizing of the gap between inland and coastal provinces.
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