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How Uncompetitive is the State-Owned Industrial Sector in China


  • Sebastián Claro

    () (Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.)


The profitability gap between state-owned enterprises and the non-state industrial sector in China is significant. Using a highly-disaggregated database of China's industry in 2003, we estimate an average return to capital in state-owned enterprises about 9% that of foreign-invested firms, and about 59% of the return to capital in all non-state-owned industrial enterprises. Capital return differences are mainly driven by productivity differences, but the negative impact on SOEs' rental rates of a relatively integrated labor market is not negligible. The rental rate gap is much higher in sectors that represent a small share in SOEs' output and assets, meaning that the capital subsidies granted by the government have not biased SOEs' production structure toward industries with greatest profitability gap. The inefficiency cost of distortions in relative factor prices is estimated between 5% and 8% of total industrial output.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastián Claro, 2005. "How Uncompetitive is the State-Owned Industrial Sector in China," Documentos de Trabajo 305, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
  • Handle: RePEc:ioe:doctra:305

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Robert C. Feenstra & Gordon H. Hanson, 2004. "Intermediaries in Entrepot Trade: Hong Kong Re-Exports of Chinese Goods," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(1), pages 3-35, March.
    2. Jefferson, Gary & Hu, Albert G. Z. & Guan, Xiaojing & Yu, Xiaoyun, 2003. "Ownership, performance, and innovation in China's large- and medium-size industrial enterprise sector," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 89-113.
    3. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 2002. "Germany's Economic Unification: An Assessment after Ten Years," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 113-128, February.
    4. Lin, Justin Yifu & Cai, Fang & Li, Zhou, 1998. "Competition, Policy Burdens, and State-Owned Enterprise Reform," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 422-427, May.
    5. Jefferson, Gary H. & Rawski, Thomas G. & Li, Wang & Yuxin, Zheng, 2000. "Ownership, Productivity Change, and Financial Performance in Chinese Industry," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 786-813, December.
    6. Sebastián Claro, 2006. "Why does China protect its labour-intensive industries more? -super-," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 14(2), pages 289-319, April.
    7. Zheng, Jinghai & Liu, Xiaoxuan & Bigsten, Arne, 2003. "Efficiency, technical progress, and best practice in Chinese state enterprises (1980-1994)," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 134-152, March.
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    More about this item


    China; SOEs profitability; rental rate gap; productivity differences;

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • P3 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions
    • P42 - Economic Systems - - Other Economic Systems - - - Productive Enterprises; Factor and Product Markets; Prices


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