China’s Economic Growth 1978-2025: What We Know Today about China’s Economic Growth Tomorrow
Views of the future China vary widely. While some believe that the collapse of China is inevitable, others see the emergence of a new superpower that increasingly poses a threat to the U.S. This paper examines the economic growth prospects of China over the next two decades. Extrapolating past real GDP growth rates into the future, the size of the Chinese economy surpasses that of the U.S. in purchasing power terms between 2012 and 2015; by 2025, China is likely to be the world's largest economic power by almost any measure. The extrapolations are supported by two types of considerations. First, China’s growth patterns of the past 25 years since the beginning of economic reforms match well those identified by standard economic development and trade theories (structural change, catching up, and factor price equalization). Second, decomposing China’s GDP growth into growth of labor and other variables, the near-certain information available today about the quantity and quality of Chinese laborers through 2015 and possibly several years after allows inferences about future GDP growth. Short of some cataclysmic event, and given a continuation of the generally sound economic policies of the past, demographics alone suggests China’s continued economic rise. If talent is randomly distributed in the world population and if agglomeration of talent is important, then the odds are strongly in China’s favor.
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