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How fast has Chinese industry grown?


  • Rawski, Tom


Data for recent years indicate an acceleration of Chinese industrial growth, from the annual rates of about 10 percent recorded in the quarter century before economic reform to figures approaching 15 percent in the mid- and late 1980s. Evaluating the statistics underlying these reports requires an appraisal of how economic reform has affected the ability of China's statistical system to measure economic performance. Erroneous information about the rate and pattern of industrial growth could distort measures of productivity change considered to be central indicators of the effectiveness of Chinese industrial reform. The author describes the statistical materials and procedures used to provide information on the growth of industrial output. He investigates sources of bias in the official statistics to indicate, whenever possible, how these biases affected reported output totals, and to appraise the impact of adjustments to reported output growth on measures of industrial productivity. The specific consequences of decentralized decisionmaking, growing price flexibility, inflation, dual pricing systems, the emergence of enterpriseswith few or no ties to the system of state planning, and other emerging features of the industrial system may be unique to China but the broader issues raised are relevant in many countries. The author finds considerable evidence of an upward bias in measures of China's real industrial output in the past decade. The issue is not whether such bias exists but whether its presence substantially alters our perception of the rate and pattern of Chinese industrial growth. To clarify this issue requires investigating the extent of possible upward bias. This in turn calls for an analysis of possible links between upward bias - which is itself difficult to observe - and other economic patterns that may be more readily measurable.

Suggested Citation

  • Rawski, Tom, 1993. "How fast has Chinese industry grown?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1194, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1194

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    Cited by:

    1. Wang, Yijiang & Chang, Chun, 1998. "Economic transition under a semifederalist government: The experience of China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-23.
    2. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2003. "Why did the energy intensity fall in China's industrial sector in the 1990s? The relative importance of structural change and intensity change," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 625-638, November.
    3. Wang Xiaolu & Meng Lian, 2001. "A reevaluation of China's economic growth," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 338-346.
    4. Lee, Boon L. & Rao, D.S. Prasada & Shepherd, William, 2007. "Comparisons of real output and productivity of Chinese and Indian manufacturing, 1980-2002," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 378-416, September.
    5. Guanghua Wan & Peter J. Morgan & Harry X. Wu, 2016. "Sustainability of China's Growth Model: A Productivity Perspective," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 24(5), pages 42-70, September.
    6. Camacho, Maximo & Dal Bianco, Marcos & Martinez-Martin, Jaime, 2015. "Toward a more reliable picture of the economic activity: An application to Argentina," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 129-132.
    7. Zhang, Jin & Li, Pujiang & Zhao, Guochang, 2018. "Is power generation really the gold measure of the Chinese economy? A conceptual and empirical assessment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 211-216.
    8. Raiser, Martin, 1995. "Industrial reforms in China: State-owned enterprises between output growth and profitability decline," Kiel Working Papers 672, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).


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