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Chinese Economic Growth: Sources and Prospects


  • Wing Thye Woo
  • Michael Magill
  • Julian R. Betts

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)


China's impressive growth is rooted in the liberalization of a surplus labor economy that has a high saving rate. The reallocation of surplus agriculture labor to industry and service sectors generates a growth effect that shows up in total factor productivity (TFP) growth. Net TFP, the resulting residual, contains the true measure of technological progress (among other effects). Taking account of mismeasurement problems, especially of value added in the industry sector, I calculated a plausible range of estimates for each source of growth. My point estimates for each of their contribution to the average annual 9.3 percent growth rate in the 1979-93 period growth rate in the 1985-93 subperiod are, respectively: 1979-93 1985-93 4.9 5.5 percentage points from capital accumulation 1.3 1.1 percentage points from labor force expansion. 1.1 1.3 percentage points from reallocation of labor from agriculture 0.2 0.3 percentage points from inconsistent use of base prices, 0.5Ã?0.7 0.9Ã?1.2 percentage points from overstatement of industrial growth, 1.1-1.3 0.3Ã?0.6 percentage points from net TFP growth.

Suggested Citation

  • Wing Thye Woo & Michael Magill & Julian R. Betts, 2003. "Chinese Economic Growth: Sources and Prospects," Working Papers 968, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:96-8

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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.
    2. Sylvie Démurger & Jeffrey D. Sachs & Wing Thye Woo & Shuming Bao & Gene Chang & Andrew Mellinger, 2002. "Geography, Economic Policy, and Regional Development in China," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 146-197.
    3. Piketty, Thomas & Yang, Li & Zucman, Gabriel, 2017. "Capital Accumulation, Private Property and Rising Inequality in China, 1978-2015," CEPR Discussion Papers 12410, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Xiang Ao & Lilyan E. Fulginiti, 2005. "Productivity Growth in China: Evidence from Chinese Provinces," Development and Comp Systems 0502024, EconWPA.
    5. Woo, Wing Thye, 2001. "Recent claims of China's economic exceptionalism: Reflections inspired by WTO accession," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(2-3), pages 107-136.
    6. Warwick J. McKibbin & Wing Thye Woo, 2003. "The Consequences of China's WTO Accession for Its Neighbors," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 2(2), pages 1-38.
    7. Barry Bosworth & Susan M. Collins, 2008. "Accounting for Growth: Comparing China and India," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(1), pages 45-66, Winter.
    8. Bloom, David E. & Canning, David & Hu, Linlin & Liu, Yuanli & Mahal, Ajay & Yip, Winnie, 2010. "The contribution of population health and demographic change to economic growth in China and India," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 17-33, March.
    9. Richard G. Harris & Peter E. Robertson & Jessica Y. Xu, 2011. "The International Effects of China’s Growth, Trade and Education Booms," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(10), pages 1703-1725, October.
    10. Thomas Piketty & Li Yang & Gabriel Zucman, 2017. "Appendix to "Capital Accumulation, Private Property and Rising Inequality in China, 1978-2015"," Working Papers 201707, World Inequality Lab.
    11. Wong Hock Tsen, 2006. "Granger causality tests among openness to international trade, human capital accumulation and economic growth in China: 1952-1999," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 285-302.
    12. Harry X. Wu, 2006. "The Chinese GDP Growth Rate Puzzle: How Fast Has the Chinese Economy Grown?," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series d06-176, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    13. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2006. "Neither a borrower nor a lender: Does China's zero net foreign asset position make economic sense?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(5), pages 943-971, July.
    14. Meng, Xin & Zhang, Dandan, 2010. "Labour Market Impact of Large Scale Internal Migration on Chinese Urban 'Native' Workers," IZA Discussion Papers 5288, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

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