The Effect of Economic Reform and Industrial Policy in a Panel of Chinese Cities
We use the establishment of Special Economic Zones in China to estimate the effect of economic reforms on GDP. A panel of 270 Chinese cities from 1988 to 2010 allows us to exploit the variation in the establishment of zones across time and space. The results from our baseline fixed effects specification suggest that the establishment of a major zone led to an increase in the level of GDP between 6% and 10%, depending on the type of zone. This result is similar in a sub-sample of inland provinces, where the selection of cities in which zones were established was more transparent. Decomposing GDP into physical capital, efficient labor, and TFP shows that the effect of the zones went mainly through the accumulation of physical capital. Using electricity consumption and light intensity as two alternative measures for economic activity partly confirms these results.
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