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Explaining China’s Low Consumption; The Neglected Role of Household Income


  • Jahangir Aziz
  • Li Cui


The Chinese government has recently focused on the need to increase consumption to rebalance the economy. A widely held view is that despite China's remarkably high growth, the share of consumption in total expenditure has been low and declining due to high and rising saving rate of Chinese households as uncertainty over provision of pensions, and healthcare and education costs have increased since the mid-1990s. This paper finds that the rise in saving rate has been a minor factor. Much larger has been the role of the declining share of household income in national income, which has occurred across-the-board in wages, investment income, and government transfers. The paper finds that financial sector weaknesses, by restricting firms' access to bank financing for working capital, have played quantitatively a major role in keeping wage and investment income shares low and on a declining trend.

Suggested Citation

  • Jahangir Aziz & Li Cui, 2007. "Explaining China’s Low Consumption; The Neglected Role of Household Income," IMF Working Papers 07/181, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:07/181

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Rod Tyers, 2008. "Competition Policy, Corporate Saving and China's Current Account Surplus," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2008-496, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    2. Robert C. Feenstra & Chang Hong, 2010. "China's Exports and Employment," NBER Chapters,in: China's Growing Role in World Trade, pages 167-199 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. C Niranjan Rao, 2008. "The Role of Intellectual Property Rights in Information and Communication Technologies," Working Papers id:1742, eSocialSciences.
    4. Tomoyuki Fukumoto & Ichiro Muto, 2012. "Rebalancing China's Economic Growth: Some Insights from Japan's Experience," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 20(1), pages 62-82, January.
    5. P. Butzen & W. Melyn & W. Vandevyvere, 2010. "Rebalancing global demand," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue ii, pages 21-38, September.
    6. John Knight & Wei Wang, 2011. "China’s Macroeconomic Imbalances: Causes and Consequences," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(9), pages 1476-1506, September.
    7. Zheng Lu & Xiang Deng, 2013. "Regional Policy And Regional Development: A Case Study Of China‘S Western Development Strategy," Annales Universitatis Apulensis Series Oeconomica, Faculty of Sciences, "1 Decembrie 1918" University, Alba Iulia, vol. 1(15), pages 1-21.
    8. Gauvin, Ludovic & Rebillard, Cyril, 2013. "Towards Recoupling? Assessing the Impact of a Chinese Hard Landing on Commodity Exporters: Results from Conditional Forecast in a GVAR Model," MPRA Paper 65457, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Jahangir Aziz, 2008. "Deconstructing China’s and India’s Growth: The Role of Financial Policies," Working Papers id:1714, eSocialSciences.
    10. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 511-564.
    11. Carsten A Holz & Aaron Mehrotra, 2013. "Wage and price dynamics in a large emerging economy: The case of China," BIS Working Papers 409, Bank for International Settlements.
    12. Chen, Binkai & Lu, Ming & Zhong, Ninghua, 2015. "How Urban Segregation Distorts Chinese Migrants’ Consumption?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 133-146.
    13. M. Albert & C. Jude & C. Rebillard, 2015. "The Long Landing Scenario: Rebalancing from Overinvestment and Excessive Credit Growth. Implications for Potential Growth in China," Working papers 572, Banque de France.
    14. Wagner, Prof. Dr. Helmut, 2016. "The Building Up of New Imbalances in China: The Dilemma with ‘Rebalancing’," MPRA Paper 71494, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Julan Du & Hongsheng Fang & Xiangrong Jin, 2013. "Chinese Political and Economic Governance System and the Imbalance between Consumption and Investment," Working Papers 232013, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
    16. Du, Julan & Fang, Hongsheng & Jin, Xiangrong, 2014. "The “growth-first strategy” and the imbalance between consumption and investment in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 441-458.
    17. repec:kap:iecepo:v:14:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10368-016-0360-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Rod Tyers & Ling Huang, 2009. "Combating China's Export Contraction: Fiscal Expansion or Accelerated Industrial Reform?," ANU Working Papers in Economics and Econometrics 2009-501, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics.
    19. Mayer, Jörg, 2012. "Global rebalancing: Effects on trade and employment," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(6), pages 627-642.
    20. Arslan Razmi, 2008. "Is the Chinese Investment- and Export-Led Growth Model Sustainable? Some Rising Concerns," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2008-09, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    21. Gu, Xinhua & Tam, Pui Sun, 2013. "The saving–growth–inequality triangle in China," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 850-857.
    22. Jahangir Aziz, 2008. "Real and Financial Sector Linkages in China and India," IMF Working Papers 08/95, International Monetary Fund.
    23. Weber, Christopher L. & Peters, Glen P. & Guan, Dabo & Hubacek, Klaus, 2008. "The contribution of Chinese exports to climate change," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 3572-3577, September.

    More about this item


    Consumption; China; Economic growth; Income; Financing Constraints; Rebalancing Growth; employment growth; employment; household income; household survey; national accounts;

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