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The Supply and Demand Factors Behind the Relative Earnings Increases in Urban China at the Turn of the 21st Century

  • Gao, Hang


    (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)

  • Marchand, Joseph


    (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)

  • Song, Tao


    (University of Alberta, Department of Economics)

Real earnings have increased for all demographic and skill groups within China’s urban labor market from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s. This paper analyzes these changes in earnings with respect to the relative supply and demand changes of each of the imperfectly substitutable labor inputs. These movements are found to be consistent with real earnings increases for some of the input groups but are inconsistent for others. This implies that China has transitioned closer to a free labor market from its planned origin. In addition, labor supply is shown to be moving towards a more educated workforce, and firm privatization and international trade are found to play significant roles in determining the labor demand movements.

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Paper provided by University of Alberta, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2011-23.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: 01 Dec 2011
Date of revision: 01 Feb 2012
Handle: RePEc:ris:albaec:2011_023
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  1. J. David Brown & John Earle & Almos Telegdy, 2005. "The Productivity Effects of Privatization: Longitudinal Estimates from Hungary, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine," CERT Discussion Papers 0508, Centre for Economic Reform and Transformation, Heriot Watt University.
  2. J. DavidBrown & JohnS. Earle & �lmos Telegdy, 2010. "Employment and Wage Effects of Privatisation: Evidence from Hungary, Romania, Russia and Ukraine," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(545), pages 683-708, 06.
  3. Bargain, Olivier & Bhaumik, Sumon K. & Chakrabarty, Manisha & Zhao, Zhong, 2008. "Earnings Differences between Chinese and Indian Wage Earners, 1987–2004," IZA Discussion Papers 3284, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. 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.
  5. Appleton, Simon & Song, Lina & Xia, Qingjie, 2005. "Has China crossed the river? The evolution of wage structure in urban China during reform and retrenchment," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 644-663, December.
  6. Dong, Xiao-yuan & Xu, Lixin Colin, 2009. "Labor restructuring in China: Toward a functioning labor market," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 287-305, June.
  7. Katz, L.F. & Murphy, K.M., 1991. "Changes in Relative Wages, 1963-1987: Supply and Demand Factors," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1580, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  8. Li, Haizheng & Zax, Jeffrey S., 2003. "Labor supply in urban China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 795-817, December.
  9. Lam, Kit-Chun & Liu, Pak-Wai, 2011. "Increasing dispersion of skills and rising earnings inequality," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 82-91, March.
  10. Sylvie Démurger & Martin Fournier & Li Shi & W. Zhong, 2006. "Economic Liberalization and Rising Segmentation in China's urban labor market," Post-Print hal-00129647, HAL.
  11. Lee, Young, 1999. "Wages and Employment in China's SOEs, 1980-1994: Corporatization, Market Development, and Insider Forces," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 702-729, December.
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