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Changes in China's Wage Structure

  • Ge, Suqin


    (Virginia Tech)

  • Yang, Dennis T.


    (University of Virginia)

Using a national sample of Urban Household Surveys, we document several profound changes in China's wage structure during a period of rapid economic growth. Between 1992 and 2007, the average real wage increased by 202 percent, accompanied by a sharp rise in wage inequality. Decomposition analysis reveals 80 percent of this wage growth to be attributable to higher pay for basic labor, rising returns to human capital, and increases in the state-sector wage premium. Employing an aggregate production function framework, we account for the sources of wage growth and wage inequality in the face of globalization and economic transition. We find capital accumulation, skill-biased technological change, and export expansion to be the major forces behind the evolving wage structure in China.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6492.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of European Economic Association, 2014, 12 (2), 300-336
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6492
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  1. Shing-Yi Wang, 2011. "State Misallocation and Housing Prices: Theory and Evidence from China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2081-2107, August.
  2. Donghoon Lee & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2005. "Accounting for Wage and Employment Changes in the U. S. from 1968-2000: A Dynamic Model of Labor Market Equilibrium," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-005, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 02 Jan 2006.
  3. Meng, Xin & Kidd, Michael P., 1997. "Labor Market Reform and the Changing Structure of Wage Determination in China's State Sector during the 1980s," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 403-421, December.
  4. Ge, Suqin & Yang, Dennis Tao, 2011. "Labor market developments in China: A neoclassical view," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 611-625.
  5. Loren Brandt & Trevor Tombe & Xiadong Zhu, 2013. "Factor Market Distortions Across Time, Space, and Sectors in China," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 16(1), pages 39-58, January.
  6. Song, Zheng Michael & Storesletten, Kjetil & Zilibotti, Fabrizio, 2009. "Growing like China," CEPR Discussion Papers 7149, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Zvi Griliches, 1998. "Issues in Assessing the Contribution of Research and Development to Productivity Growth," NBER Chapters, in: R&D and Productivity: The Econometric Evidence, pages 17-45 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Chris Papageorgiou & John Duffy & Fidel Perez-Sebastian, . "Capital-Skill complementarity? Evidence from a Panel of Countries," Departmental Working Papers 2003-12, Department of Economics, Louisiana State University.
  9. 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.
  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. Albert G. Z. Hu & Gary H. Jefferson & Qian Jinchang, 2005. "R&D and Technology Transfer: Firm-Level Evidence from Chinese Industry," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(4), pages 780-786, November.
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