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The economic causes and consequences of social instability in China

  • Knight, John

This paper provides a survey of the economic literature relevant to social instability in China and moulds it into an argument. The objective is to offer a fresh view of economic policy and performance through the lens of the threat posed by social instability. This is a concept that economists rarely analyse, and yet it can lurk behind much economic policy-making. China's leadership has often publicly expressed its concern to avoid ‘social instability’. It is viewed as a threat both to the political order and to the continued rapid growth of the economy. This threat to growth in turn endangers the maintenance of social stability. The paper examines the likely economic determinants of social instability, using both surveys and other evidence. After discussing the determinants of China's rapid growth, the paper goes on to examine the likely mechanisms by which social instability can affect the growth rate. There is a case for more research on the role of social instability in the economic development process.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal China Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 25 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 17-26

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Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:25:y:2013:i:c:p:17-26
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/chieco

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  1. John Knight & Linda Yueh, 2002. "The Role of Social Capital in the Labour Market in China," Economics Series Working Papers 121, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Campos, Nauro F. & Nugent, Jeffrey B., 2002. "Who is afraid of political instability?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 157-172, February.
  3. Matthew Rabin, 1998. "Psychology and Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 11-46, March.
  4. Knight, John & Gunatilaka, Ramani, 2012. "Income, aspirations and the Hedonic Treadmill in a poor society," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 67-81.
  5. Perotti, Roberto, 1996. " Growth, Income Distribution, and Democracy: What the Data Say," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 149-87, June.
  6. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2007. "Great Expectations? The Subjective Well-Being of Rural-Urban Migrants in China," Economics Series Working Papers 322, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  7. Ari Aisen & Francisco José Veiga, 2010. "How does political instability affect economic growth?," NIPE Working Papers 5/2010, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  8. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler, 2004. "Greed and grievance in civil war," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 56(4), pages 563-595, October.
  9. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2011. "Does Economic Growth Raise Happiness in China?," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(1), pages 1-24.
  10. Appleton, Simon & Song, Lina, 2008. "Life Satisfaction in Urban China: Components and Determinants," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 2325-2340, November.
  11. Perotti, Roberto & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," Scholarly Articles 4553018, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Roubini, Nouriel & Swagel, Phillip & Ozler, Sule & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Political Instability and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4553024, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Frijters, Paul & Liu, Amy Y.C. & Meng, Xin, 2012. "Are optimistic expectations keeping the Chinese happy?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 159-171.
  14. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2009. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," NBER Working Papers 15093, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Knight, John & Ding, Sai, 2012. "China's Remarkable Economic Growth," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199698691.
  16. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Income distribution, political instability, and investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1203-1228, June.
  17. William Easterly & Jozef Ritzan & Michael Woolcock, 2006. "Social Cohesion, Institutions, and Growth," Working Papers 94, Center for Global Development.
  18. Alesina, Alberto, et al, 1996. " Political Instability and Economic Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 189-211, June.
  19. John Knight & Deng Quheng and Li Shi, 2010. "The Puzzle of Migrant Labour Shortage and Rural Labour Surplus in China," Economics Series Working Papers 494, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  20. Easterlin, Richard A. & Morgan, Robson & Switek, Malgorzata & Wang, Fei, 2013. "China's Life Satisfaction, 1990-2010," IZA Discussion Papers 7196, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  21. John Knight & Li Shi & Deng Quheng, 2010. "Son Preference and Household Income in Rural China," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(10), pages 1786-1805.
  22. Mauro, Paolo, 1995. "Corruption and Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 681-712, August.
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