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Das (Wasted) Kapital; Firm Ownership and Investment Efficiency in China

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  • David Dollar
  • Shang-Jin Wei

Abstract

Based on a survey that we designed and that covers a stratified random sample of 12,400 firms in 120 cities in China with firm-level accounting information for 2002-2004, this paper examines the presence of systematic distortions in capital allocation that result in uneven marginal returns to capital across firm ownership, regions, and sectors. It provides a systematic comparison of investment efficiency among wholly and partially state-owned, wholly and partially foreignowned, and domestic privately owned firms, conditioning on their sector, location, and size characteristics. It finds that even after a quarter-of-century of reforms, state-owned firms still have significantly lower returns to capital, on average, than domestic private or foreign-owned firms. Similarly, certain regions and sectors have consistently lower returns to capital than other regions and sectors. By our calculation, if China succeeds in allocating its capital more efficiently, it could reduce its investment intensity by 5 percent of GDP without sacrificing its economic growth (and hence deliver a greater improvement to its citizens' living standard).

Suggested Citation

  • David Dollar & Shang-Jin Wei, 2007. "Das (Wasted) Kapital; Firm Ownership and Investment Efficiency in China," IMF Working Papers 07/9, International Monetary Fund.
  • Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:07/9
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Boyreau-Debray, Genevieve & Wei, Shang-Jin, 2004. "Pitfalls of a State-Dominated Financial System: The Case of China," CEPR Discussion Papers 4471, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Chong-En Bai & Chang-Tai Hsieh & Yingyi Qian, 2006. "The Return to Capital in China," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 37(2), pages 61-102.
    3. Allen, Franklin & Qian, Jun & Qian, Meijun, 2005. "Law, finance, and economic growth in China," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 57-116, July.
    4. Kui-Wai Li, 2003. "China's Capital and Productivity Measurement Using Financial Resources," Working Papers 851, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    5. Park, Albert & Sehrt, Kaja, 2001. "Tests of Financial Intermediation and Banking Reform in China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 608-644, December.
    6. Wendy Dobson & Anil K. Kashyap, 2006. "The Contradiction in China's Gradualist Banking Reforms," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 37(2), pages 103-162.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; Economic reforms; Industry; Investment; Resource allocation; Returns to capital; financial system; SOEs; private firms; outlier; survey; statistics; outliers; Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development;

    JEL classification:

    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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