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The rise of the service sector in China

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  • Liao, Junmin

Abstract

This paper analyzes the underlying mechanisms that explain the rise of the service sector in China. Along with China’s unprecedented growth, the rapid expansion of its service sector is one of the fastest among emerging countries. However, the literature has yet to offer a clear understanding of such expansion. We show that distribution services first grow with the manufacturing sector, followed by personal services as per capita income rises. Motivated by this growth pattern, this paper provides a theory that describes 1) the complementarity between distribution services and the manufacturing sector, and 2) the substitution between personal services and home production. Empirics show that the personal service sector is the key to account for the early and rapid rise of the service sector in China. Quantitatively, high productivity growth and high capital intensity in the personal service sector, and labor market frictions are the most important channels. By revealing the growth pattern of the service sector in the early stages of development, the paper thereby contributes to the growing literature on the rising importance of the service economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Liao, Junmin, 2020. "The rise of the service sector in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 59(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:59:y:2020:i:c:s1043951x19301464
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2019.101385
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    Cited by:

    1. Scott Rozelle & Yiran Xia & Dimitris Friesen & Bronson Vanderjack & Nourya Cohen, 2020. "Moving Beyond Lewis: Employment and Wage Trends in China’s High- and Low-Skilled Industries and the Emergence of an Era of Polarization," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 62(4), pages 555-589, December.
    2. Guo, Kaiming & Hang, Jing & Yan, Se, 2021. "Servicification of investment and structural transformation: The case of China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C).
    3. Zhang, Yumei & Diao, Xinshen, 2020. "The changing role of agriculture with economic structural change – The case of China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Structural change; Service economy; Chinese economy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology

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