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Rising Wages: Has China Lost Its Global Labor Advantage?

  • Yang, Dennis T.

    ()

    (University of Virginia)

  • Chen, Vivian

    ()

    (The Conference Board)

  • Monarch, Ryan

    ()

    (University of Michigan)

We document dramatic rising wages in China for the period 1978-2007 based on multiple sources of aggregate statistics. Although real wages increased seven-fold during the period, growth was uneven across ownership types, industries and regions. Since the late 1990s, the wages of state-owned enterprises have increased rapidly and wage disparities between skill-intensive and labor-intensive industries have widened. Comparisons of international data show that China's manufacturing wage has already converged to that of Asian emerging markets, but China still enjoys enormous labor cost advantages over its neighboring developed economies. Our analysis suggests that China's wage growth will stabilize to a moderate pace in the near future.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5008.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Pacific Economic Review, 2010, 15(4), 482-504
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5008
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  1. Yang, Dennis Tao, 2002. "What has caused regional inequality in China?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 331-334, December.
  2. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521771269 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Guanghua Wan & Ming Lu & Zhao Chen, 2007. "Globalization And Regional Income Inequality: Empirical Evidence From Within China," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(1), pages 35-59, 03.
  4. John Knight & Lina Song, 2003. "Increasing urban wage inequality in China," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 11(4), pages 597-619, December.
  5. Kanbur, Ravi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2004. "Fifty Years of Regional Inequality in China: A Journey through Central Planning, Reform, and Openness," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  6. Giles, John & Park, Albert & Zhang, Juwei, 2005. "What is China's true unemployment rate?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 149-170.
  7. Belton M. Fleisher & Klara Sabirianova Peter & Xiaojun Wang, 2004. "Returns to Skills and the Speed of Reforms: Evidence from Central and Eastern Europe, China, and Russia," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2004-703, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  8. John Knight & Jinjun Xue, 2006. "How High is Urban Unemployment in China?," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 91-107.
  9. John Giles & Albert Park & Fang Cai, 2003. "How has Economic Restructuring Affected China’s Urban Workers?," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-628, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  10. Dong, Xiao-Yuan & Putterman, Louis, 2003. "Soft budget constraints, social burdens, and labor redundancy in China's state industry," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 110-133, March.
  11. Psacharopoulos, George & Patrinos, Harry Anthony, 2002. "Returns to investment in education : a further update," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2881, The World Bank.
  12. Richard B. Freeman & Remco Oostendorp, 2000. "Wages Around the World: Pay Across Occupations and Countries," NBER Working Papers 8058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Haiyan Deng & Robert H. McGuckin & John C. Haltiwanger & Xu Jianyi & Liu Yaodong & Liu Yuqi, 2007. "The Contribution of Restructuring and Reallocation to China's Productivity and Growth," Economics Program Working Papers 07-04, The Conference Board, Economics Program.
  14. Zhang, Junsen & Zhao, Yaohui & Park, Albert & Song, Xiaoqing, 2005. "Economic returns to schooling in urban China, 1988 to 2001," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 730-752, December.
  15. Yang, Dennis Tao, 2005. "Determinants of schooling returns during transition: Evidence from Chinese cities," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 244-264, June.
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