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How High is Urban Unemployment in China?

  • John Knight
  • Jinjun Xue

Rapid economic growth and radical structural transformation pose a challenge to official statisticians as they seek to encompass new economic activities and phenomena. The accuracy of official statistics is liable to come into question. Urban unemployment in China is a good example. This paper estimates the urban unemployment rate using administrative statistics, population census data and a recent sample survey data set, and provides a critique showing in some detail how and why Chinese unemployment statistics are a minefield for the unwary and unemployment is so difficult to measure. Nevertheless, it is found that the urban unemployment rate rose rapidly over the 1990s and exceeded 11% in 1999 and 2000. The paper concludes by considering the implications of the findings for understanding unemployment, for policy, and for the collection of statistics.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies.

Volume (Year): 4 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 91-107

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jocebs:v:4:y:2006:i:2:p:91-107
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  1. Kingdon, Geeta & Knight, John, 2006. "The measurement of unemployment when unemployment is high," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 291-315, June.
  2. Knight, John & Li, Shi, 2005. "Wages, firm profitability and labor market segmentation in urban China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 205-228.
  3. Knight, John & Yueh, Linda, 2004. "Job mobility of residents and migrants in urban China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 637-660, December.
  4. Appleton, Simon & Knight, John & Song, Lina & Xia, Qingjie, 2002. "Labor retrenchment in China: Determinants and consequences," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(2-3), pages 252-275.
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