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Why does China invest so much?


  • John Knight
  • Sai Ding


China has had a remarkably high ratio of investment to output throughout the period of economic reform, surpassing almost all other economies, whether developed or developing. The high investment rate is in turn an important proximate determinant of China's high rate of economic growth. This survey paper gathers together the available evidence to explain why investment is so high. It considers factors both on the demand and on the supply side, and in the latter case the availability both of resources and of funds. It analyses the rate of return on capital and its movement over time, and the factors which have kept it up. It draws on the literature to explain the high saving rate, and considers why the imperfect capital market and institutional deficiencies have not constrained investment. The state-owned and the private sectors are treated separately on account of their different objectives and behaviour and their differential access to funds.

Suggested Citation

  • John Knight & Sai Ding, 2009. "Why does China invest so much?," Economics Series Working Papers 441, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:441

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alessandro Borin & Enrica Di Stefano, 2016. "Economic reforms in China and India: past and future challenges," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 337, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    2. Guonan Ma & Robert McCauley & Lillie Lam, 2013. "The Roles of Saving, Investment and the Renminbi in Rebalancing the Chinese Economy," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(1), pages 72-84, February.
    3. Sai Ding & Alessandra Guariglia & John Knight, "undated". "Negative investment in China: financing constraints and restructuring versus growth," Discussion Papers 12/01, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    4. John Knight & Wei Wang, 2011. "China’s Macroeconomic Imbalances: Causes and Consequences," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(9), pages 1476-1506, September.
    5. Sai Ding & Alessandra Guariglia & John Knight, "undated". "Does China overinvest? Evidence from a panel of Chinese firms," Discussion Papers 12/04, University of Nottingham, GEP.
    6. Harashima, Taiji, 2016. "The Impending Long March of the Chinese Economy," MPRA Paper 73275, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Sarmiza Pencea & Iulia Monica Oehler-Sincai, 2015. "Investment-Led Development In China – From Past Accomplishments, To Future Challenges," Romanian Economic Business Review, Romanian-American University, vol. 10(2), pages 87-102, June.
    8. 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.
    9. Ding Lu, 2011. "Transition of China’s growth pattern," Frontiers of Economics in China, Springer;Higher Education Press, vol. 6(4), pages 535-555, December.
    10. van Treeck, Till. & Sturn, Simon., 2012. "Income inequality as a cause of the Great Recession? : A survey of current debates," ILO Working Papers 994709343402676, International Labour Organization.

    More about this item


    China; Financial market; Credit constraint; Investment; Rate of profit; Saving;

    JEL classification:

    • E2 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment
    • G1 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies

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