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Chinese Manufacturing Performance in Comparative Perspective, 1980-2002


  • Adam Szirmai

    () (Eindhoven Univeristy of Technology, Netherlands)

  • Ruoen Ren

    (Beihang University, China)

  • Manyin Bai

    (Beihang University, China)


This paper uses the detailed information in the 1995 Census of Industrial Production as a benchmark for analysing the coverage, concepts and consistency of published statistical series. On the basis of the analysis, the paper proposes a series of adjustments which result in more consistent long-run series of labour productivity for 21 manufacturing sectors from 1980-2002. For purposes of international comparisons with the USA, the paper subsequently presents industry of origin unit value ratios for the benchmark year 1995. These are used to convert Chinese value added into US dollars. In 2002, value added for the statistically well-covered sectors of Chinese manufacturing was 43 per cent of US value added, against 12 per cent in 1980. The comparative analysis of labour productivity points to a long period of Chinese growth without catch up from 1980-1992. After 1992, there was a rapid and accelerating process of catch up. In comparative terms labour productivity increased from 5.3 per cent of the US level in 1995 to 13.7 per cent in 2002.

Suggested Citation

  • Adam Szirmai & Ruoen Ren & Manyin Bai, 2005. "Chinese Manufacturing Performance in Comparative Perspective, 1980-2002," Working Papers 920, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:920

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Holz, Carsten A. & Lin, Yi-min, 2001. "The 1997-1998 break in industrial statistics: Facts and appraisal," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 303-316.
    2. Szirmai, Adam & Ruoen, Ren, 1995. "China's Manufacturing Performance in Comparative Perspective, 1980-1992," GGDC Research Memorandum 199520, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
    3. Wu, Harry X, 2000. "China's GDP Level and Growth Performance: Alternative Estimates and the Implications," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 46(4), pages 475-499, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yin-Wong Cheung & Menzie D. Chinn & Eiji Fujii, 2009. "The Illusion of Precision and the Role of the Renminbi in Regional Integration," Chapters,in: Towards Monetary and Financial Integration in East Asia, chapter 13 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Vittorio Valli & Donatella Saccone, 2009. "Structural Change and Economic Development in China and India," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 6(1), pages 101-129, June.
    3. Douglas L. Campbell, 2014. "Through the Looking Glass: A WARPed View of Real Exchange Rate History," Working Papers w0210, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
    4. Bart Van Ark & Abdul Azeez Erumban & Vivian Chen & Utsav Kumar, 2008. "The Cost Competitiveness of Manufacturing in China and India - An Industry and Regional Perspective," Macroeconomics Working Papers 22268, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    5. Lili Kang & Peng Fei, 2013. "Cost Competitiveness Comparisons and Convergence in China," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 223(1), pages 49-60, February.
    6. Janet Ceglowski & Stephen Golub, 2011. "Does China Still Have a Labor Cost Advantage?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3579, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Giovanni Dosi & Jiasu Lei & Xiaodan Yu, 2013. "Institutional Change and Productivity Growth in China's Manufacturing 1998-2007: the Microeconomics of Creative Restructuring," LEM Papers Series 2013/07, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    8. Valli Vittorio, 2009. "The three waves of the fordist model of growth and the case of China," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 200905, University of Turin.

    More about this item


    China; manufacturing; productivity growth; catch up; unit value ratios; international comparisons;

    JEL classification:

    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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