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Challenges of working with the Chinese NBS firm-level data

Listed author(s):
  • Brandt, Loren
  • Van Biesebroeck, Johannes
  • Zhang, Yifan

Over the reform period, industry has been the source of 40% of GDP, and has contributed 90% of China's exports. Annual firm-level surveys that begin in 1992, complemented with industry-wide census in 1995, 2004 and 2008, are rich sources of data on firm behavior. It is well-known that working with Chinese data requires overcoming difficult measurement issues. Macroeconomic series, for example, are often suspected of suffering from reporting bias and political interference. Working with the firm-level data has its own challenges. In this paper, we provide an introduction to these data sets. We discuss and illustrate several of the issues that make comparability over time difficult and suggest solutions. The importance of a particular measurement issue often depends on the exact application. We illustrate this point by tracing the evolution of the relative productivity level of entrants and incumbents over time, distinguishing between changes in actual performance and changes driven by measurement problems. We conclude by identifying a few promising areas of future research and margins on which collaboration among users to improve these data might be beneficial.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1043951X14000340
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal China Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 30 (2014)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 339-352

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Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:30:y:2014:i:c:p:339-352
DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2014.04.008
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/chieco

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  1. Philippe Aghion & Jing Cai & Mathias Dewatripont & Luosha Du & Ann Harrison & Patrick Legros, 2015. "Industrial Policy and Competition," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 1-32, October.
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  4. Albert Park & Dean Yang & Xinzheng Shi & Yuan Jiang, 2010. "Exporting and Firm Performance: Chinese Exporters and the Asian Financial Crisis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(4), pages 822-842, November.
  5. Eric Bartelsman & John Haltiwanger & Stefano Scarpetta, 2009. "Measuring and Analyzing Cross-country Differences in Firm Dynamics," NBER Chapters,in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 15-76 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Hang Gao & Johannes Van Biesebroeck, 2014. "Effects of Deregulation and Vertical Unbundling on the Performance of China's Electricity Generation Sector," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 41-76, 03.
  8. Brandt, Loren & Van Biesebroeck, Johannes & Zhang, Yifan, 2012. "Creative accounting or creative destruction? Firm-level productivity growth in Chinese manufacturing," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 339-351.
  9. Wang, Yuanyuan & You, Jing, 2012. "Corruption and firm growth: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 415-433.
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