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Reform without Losers: An Interpretation of China's Dual-Track Approach to Transition

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  • Lawrence J. Lau
  • Yingyi Qian
  • Gerard Roland

Abstract

We develop a simple model to analyze the "dual-track" approach to transition to a market economy as a mechanism for implementing efficient Pareto-improving economic reform, that is, reform achieving efficiency without creating losers. The approach, based on the continued enforcement of the existing plan while simultaneously liberalizing the market, can be understood as a method for making implicit lump sum transfers to compensate potential losers of the reform. The model highlights the critical role of enforcement of the plan and full liberalization of the market track. We examine how the dual-track approach has worked in product and labor markets in China's economic reform in practice.
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Suggested Citation

  • Lawrence J. Lau & Yingyi Qian & Gerard Roland, 2000. "Reform without Losers: An Interpretation of China's Dual-Track Approach to Transition," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 120-143, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:108:y:2001:i:1:p:120-143
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. McMillan, John & Naughton, Barry, 1992. "How to Reform a Planned Economy: Lessons from China," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(1), pages 130-143, Spring.
    2. Yuanzheng Cao & Yingyi Qian & Barry R. Weingast, 1999. "From federalism, Chinese style to privatization, Chinese style," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 7(1), pages 103-131, March.
    3. Gérard Roland & Thierry Verdier, 1999. "Transition and the output fall," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 7(1), pages 1-28, March.
    4. Justin Yifu Lin, Fang Cai, and Zhou Li, 1996. "The Lessons of China's Transition to a Market Economy," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 16(2), pages 201-231, Fall.
    5. Olivier Blanchard & Michael Kremer, 1997. "Disorganization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1091-1126.
    6. Lin, Justin Yifu, 1992. "Rural Reforms and Agricultural Growth in China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 34-51, March.
    7. Wei Li, 1999. "A Tale of Two Reforms," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 30(1), pages 120-136, Spring.
    8. Lau, Lawrence J. & Qian, Yingyi & Roland, Gerard, 1997. "Pareto-improving economic reforms through dual-track liberalization," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 285-292, August.
    9. Jinglian, Wu & Renwei, Zhao, 1987. "The dual pricing system in China's industry," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 309-318, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D50 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - General
    • D60 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - General
    • P21 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform
    • P22 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Prices
    • P41 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Planning, Coordination, and Reform

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