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Why Is the Productivity Analysis Misleading for Gauging State Enterprise Performance?


  • Chongen Bai

    () (Boston College)

  • David D. Li

    (University of Michigan)

  • Yijiang Wang

    (University of Minnesota)


A large literature has documented impressive productivity growth in China's state enterprises during the reform. The evidence has been used to support the view that China's enterprise reform has been successful. We cast doubt on this view by arguing that productivity is not a reliable measure of state enterprise performance. A model is used to show that when firms are not profit maximizers, higher productivity may actually lead to greater allocative distortion, lower profits and lower economic efficiency. There is evidence this may be the case for many Chinese state enterprises during the reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Chongen Bai & David D. Li & Yijiang Wang, 1997. "Why Is the Productivity Analysis Misleading for Gauging State Enterprise Performance?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 344., Boston College Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:boc:bocoec:344

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jefferson, Gary H & Rawski, Thomas G & Yuxin, Zheng, 1992. "Growth, Efficiency, and Convergence in China's State and Collective Industry," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 40(2), pages 239-266, January.
    2. Groves, Theodore & Yongmiao Hong & John McMillan & Barry Naughton, 1995. "China's Evolving Managerial Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(4), pages 873-892, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jeffrey D. Sachs & Wing Thye Woo, 2000. "Understanding china's economic performance," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(1), pages 1-50.

    More about this item


    State Enterprises; Enterprise Reform; Total Factor Productivity;

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • D29 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Other
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • P00 - Economic Systems - - General - - - General
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions


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