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40 years of China’s reform and development: How reform captured China’s demographic dividend

1. 40 years of China’s reform and
development: How reform captured
China’s demographic dividend
Cai Fang, Ross Garnaut and Ligang Song1
China’s reform, opening-up and resultant economic growth in the past 40 years provide
a new constellation of experience we can study to understand the nature of modern
economic growth. is chapter describes the process of reform and opening-up of the
economy, and its nexus to accelerated economic growth. It describes and provides some
data on the experience of trade and growth over the past 40 years. It sketches some of
the main elements of reform, changes in incentives that have driven economic growth,
changes in economic structure that have followed and the rising role of China in the
global economy. It highlights new challenges that China faces after 40 years of reform.
e eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held its
third plenum from 18 to 22 December 1978. is meeting reestablished an older
CPC ideological line of ‘seeking truth from facts’. It decided to shift the focus from
political movement to economic development. is laid the foundation for reform
and opening-up.
In the winter of the same year, Xiaogang, one of the poorest villages in Fengyang
county in Anhui province, abandoned its collective brigade production structure
and became the pioneer for contracting collectively owned land to households. Such
a practice—later known as the household responsibility system (HRS)—spread
nationwide in the early 1980s and replaced the people’s commune system that had
existed for a quarter of a century. is was the rst break in the planned economy.
China initiated the change from central planning to mainly market exchange
simultaneously with opening up to international trade and investment. Domestic
economic development and participation in economic globalisation have marched
forward hand in hand.2
1 We thank Xiaoying Wang for her help in assembling the data for most of the gures used in this chapter.
2 e International Monetary Fund (IMF 2006: 4) considered 1979 the start year for China’s economic take-o.
China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018
Deng Xiaoping was a source of, sponsor within the party for and, for two decades,
the protector of China’s reform and opening-up policy. In July 1979, under Deng’s
inuence, the central government decided to establish ‘special export zones’,
later called special economic zones (SEZs), in Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Shantou
in Guangdong province and Xiamen in Fujian province. is signalled the start
ofChina’s opening to the outside world.
is experiment was extended to 14 large cities in coastal areas in 1984, the newly
established province of Hainan in 1988, and a host of cities along the Yangtze River
and interior border cities in the early 1990s. ese domestic steps to open to the
international economy were extended to global institutions with China’s application
to resume the status of a contracting party to the General Agreement on Taris and
Trade (GATT) in 1986 and its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO)
in 2001.
China’s reforms are 40 years old. e Master said: ‘At 40, I perceived truth and
doubts ceased.’3 A wealth of empirical materials accumulated over 40 years conrms
the wisdom of internationally oriented market reform and helps us to draw theory
from experience to guide future reform.
China’s reform and opening-up is in the process of delivering to 1.4 billion Chinese
people the fruits of the most consequential socioeconomic change and institutional
innovation in human history. If it is able to maintain momentum in reform at
amore challenging time, it is likely to deliver high-income status to the Chinese
people by the early 2020s—more than doubling the number of people living in
countries with that status (Figures 1.1 and 1.2).
China’s reform and opening-up has both universal and unique features.
is chapter seeks to answer the following questions: How and why did China
miss the opportunity of catching up with the developed countries during its
planned economy era? How was China’s economic growth enhanced by removal
of institutional constraints, factor accumulation and improvements in resource
allocation? At the current stage of China’s development, with upper-middle
incomes, what new approaches are required for China’s growth engine to gain new
momentum, and to drive China into the ranks of the high-income countries?
3 is is an oft-recounted quotation in Confucian Analects; the English translation is quoted from Jin (2005: 4).
1. 40 years of China’s reform and development: How reform captured China’s demographic dividend
GDP (billion US$at 2010prices ) GDPgrowthrate(%)
Figure 1.1 China’s GDP (LHS) and growth rate (RHS), 1978–2017
Sources: UNCTAD Statistics (
GDP(US$at 2010price s) GDPg rowthrate (%)
Figure 1.2 China’s GDP per capita (LHS) and growth rate (RHS), 1978–2017
Sources: UNCTAD Statistics (
China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018
Missed opportunity of convergence
in the planning era
In 1980, China ranked near the lowest in the world in gross national income per
capita. It ranked much higher in terms of major human capital indices, and about
the middle for average years of schooling for the population aged 25 and older and
for life expectancy at birth (Cai 2015a: 40).
Although per capita income was very low, the capital stock and rate of capital
accumulation were much higher, and China had demonstrated strong capacity to
mobilise capital. In the period 1953–78, the average investment rate was 29.5 per
cent—signicantly higher than the world average and most developing economies
(Lin et al. 2003: 71–4).
e planned economy lacked the necessary institutional conditions for ecient
resource allocation and work incentives. Cross-nation studies and China’s experience
show that rejection of the market mechanism under planning causes ineciency in
resource allocation. Lack of autonomy in business decisions and lack of incentives
depress work eort.
rough the planning period, high rates of capital accumulation and rapid increases
in the labour force did not lead to commensurate rates of economic growth because
productivity performance was low. Resource misallocation distorted the industrial
structure. Appropriate technology was not applied in economic activity.
rough the early years of the People’s Republic of China and the planning system,
beginning in the early 1950s, China moved from the demographic combination of
a high birth rate, high mortality rate and low population growth to one of a high
birth rate, low mortality rate and high population growth. e latter state, with
rapid growth of the population and labour force, has often been part of a process of
economic involution.4 e result has been a dual economy characterised by a labour
surplus in agriculture (Lewis 1954).
In the late 1960s, fertility began to decline, bringing down population growth.
Population conditions more conducive to economic growth—with a potential
demographic dividend—emerged. e accumulated labour surplus provided
potential comparative advantage in the production of labour-intensive goods and
services. e demographic dividend would magnify the benets. Linked with open
international trade, this could have spurred high-speed economic growth.
4 Economic histor y shows that near the end of the Malthusian poverty trap as a stage of development, many countries
began to experience a process of economic involution characterised by accumulation of massive surplus labour in
agriculture, followed by entry to the stage of dual-economy development conceptualised by Lewis (1954).
1. 40 years of China’s reform and development: How reform captured China’s demographic dividend
is opportunity was not taken, because a comparative advantage–defying rather
than a comparative advantage–following strategy was adopted.5
China sought to promote industrialisation and to catch up with the advanced
countries by mobilising resources and allocating them through central planning
without international trade.
China’s planned system had three elements: the macropolicy environment,
planned resource allocation and micromanagement institutions (Lin et al. 2003).
e development strategy gave impetus to industrialisation, but the economic
system that emerged had severe defects.
e macropolicy environment gave priority to heavy industry in the hope of
speeding up capital accumulation and industrialisation. e industrial structure
deviated far from China’s comparative advantage and a disproportionate part of
output was allocated to investment rather than to consumption.
e highly centralised planning system denied a role for markets. It was suitable for
implementing the economic plan, but led to an imbalance between the supply of
and demand for products and a failure to allocate resources to their most valuable
uses. Total factor productivity (TFP) declined and dragged down economic growth.
Micromanagement institutions characterised by nationalisation of industry and
collectivisation of agriculture were arranged to carry out the national plan
andmatchthe planning system. Lacking operational autonomy and work incentives,
the production units—state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and people’s communes—
operated extremely ineciently. is contributed to the decline in TFP.
e Chinese economy in the planning period was almost completely isolated from
the world economy. In 1978, the share of exports plus imports in gross domestic
product (GDP) was only 9.7 per cent. Primary products (agricultural products and
raw materials) contributed more than half of the low level of exports. ere was no
direct investment. Maddison (2007: 102) estimates the annual average growth rate
of GDP in the period 1952–78 was 4.4 per cent in purchasing power parity (PPP)
terms. is was below the average for developing countries.
Spence (2011: Pt 1) argues that the global economy started an era of convergence
about 1950. Since the 1950s, a number of initially poor economies have caught up
with the developed countries. Maddison’s data show that in the period 1952–78,
the annual GDP growth rate was 4.3 per cent in the rich countries, 4.9 per cent in
‘others’ and 4.6 per cent for the world average.
5 For the denition of the two contrasting strategies, see Lin and Wang (2010); for analysis of the adoption of the
Chinese strategy in the late 1950s, see Lin et al. (2003).
China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018
China’s relative performance was worse in per capita terms, because its population
growth was higher. In 1952, China’s per capita GDP was US$538 in 1990 prices.
is was 8.7 per cent of the average of the rich countries, 46.5 per cent of the
‘others’ and 23.8 per cent of the world average. By 1978, China’s per capita GDP
(US$978 at constant price) had fallen as a percentage of each of those three groups,
to 6.8 per cent, 42.1 per cent and 22.1 per cent, respectively.
We can conclude that in the rst three decades of the People’s Republic, China
not only missed the chance to catch up with the developed countries, but also fell
further behind the rest of the world.
Let us examine how the planned economy led to inecient resource allocation.
In 1952, 82.5 per cent of the labour force worked in agriculture. at was potentially
a source of surplus labour for modern economic development.
In the mid-1960s, the population dependency ratio—the ratio of the working aged
to the dependent population—began to fall, overwhelmingly from the decline
in the proportion of people younger than working age. From this time, China
enjoyed ademographic dividend that theoretically could have been translated into
accelerated economic growth.
e Lewis model and its application to developing countries (Lewis 1954; Cai
2016) show that an abundant labour force not only delivers labour supply, but
also helps to maintain a high savings rate, avoids diminishing returns to capital and
raises allocative eciency as labour is transferred from agriculture to other sectors.
e planning model stopped China from enjoying all these benets. e share of
agricultural labour was still 74.5 per cent in 1977.
Zhu (2012) has developed a lower estimate than Maddison of average GDP growth:
2.97 per cent in the period 1952–78. e labour force grew at 3.63 per cent, and
increases in capital stock and human capital made large positive contributions.
e decline in TFP dragged growth down by 72 per cent from what it would
otherwise have been.
e ‘Great Leap Forward’ and the Cultural Revolution were the most disastrous
episodes during the planning period. We can presume that losses during these
catastrophes contributed much of the underperformance of the planning period,
although the extent of the contribution is dicult to estimate. Kwan and Chow
(1996) attempt an estimate.
1. 40 years of China’s reform and development: How reform captured China’s demographic dividend
Impact of reform and opening-up
Adequate capital accumulation and ecient allocation of physical and human
capital are prerequisites for successful economic development. Reform of a planned
economic system to provide these prerequisites requires at least three conditions
to be met. First, the reform should bring benets to at least one major group of
participants, to provide political support. Second, these benets cannot be at the
expense of any other substantial groups in society—that is, the reform has to deliver
a ‘Pareto improvement’. ird, the reform should start in a key area to transmit its
momentum to other areas of the system.
e early reforms in rural China characterised by the introduction of the HRS
and the abolition of the people’s communes met these conditions rather perfectly.
eHRS was at rst accepted for individual cases and, as early as the late 1970s,
was piloted in some poor, remote areas and eventually encouraged nationwide by
the central government. By the end of 1984, all production brigades and 98 per cent
of households in rural China had adopted the HRS. e people’s commune system
was ocially abolished at this time. is reform immediately improved incentives
for agricultural production by granting farmers autonomy over operations and
rights to prots from more ecient use of their land and labour, which gave them
incentives to raise productivity.
In the period 1978–84—the years of transition from the people’s communes to the
HRS—grain yield per unit area increased by 42.8 per cent, total output of grain
increased by 33.6 per cent and real agricultural value added increased by 52.6 per
cent. Lin (1992) shows that 46.9 per cent of the increase in agricultural output
can be attributed to the HRS. e jump in agricultural production mitigated the
shortage of urban supply and gradually laid the foundations for the abolition of the
rationing system in the early 1990s.
In the same period, the nominal average income of farm households increased by
166 per cent. e number of rural residents living in absolute poverty dropped from
250 million to 128 million, with the poverty line rising from RMB100 to RMB200
(Cai 2015a: 4).
Figure 1.3 presents the data as to how the share of the population in poverty has
been falling consistently through the reform period.
Similar reforms on a dierent timetable and with greater diculty were implemented
in urban areas. A system of bonuses for employees was introduced in SOEs in 1978,
which aimed to align incentives for employees with enterprise performance. is
was followed by the state granting autonomy to and sharing prots with enterprises.
China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018
7.70 7.65
6.61 6.58
1.22 0.99 0.82 0.70 0.56 0.43 0.30
97.5 96.2
60 .5
17.2 12.6 10.2 8.5 7.2 5.7 4.4 3 .1 0
1978 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
hundred million
povertyrate (%oftotalinvestigationpopulation)
Figure 1.3 China’s poverty population (hundred million), 1978–2017
Sources: State Council Information Oce (2016); National Bureau of Statistics (NBS various years).
SOE reform as the core of urban reform has had several threads (Garnaut et al.
2006). One related to making SOEs viable market players, and began with the
expansion of enterprises’ autonomy, building up to corporatisation. Granting
autonomy to enterprises began with pilot programs in some cities in the late 1970s.
It was quickly extended to more regions, and then to the whole country in the
early 1980s. Simplication of government controls on enterprises and delegation of
authority followed through the 1980s. SOEs achieved management autonomy on
setting wages and bonuses, hiring and ring workers, purchasing and selling goods
and services, pricing products and utilising their own cash ows for investment.
Experiments were conducted with a variety of management forms, including
managers’ responsibility, enterprise contracts, asset leasing and shareholding systems.
In the late 1990s, a more radical measure was introduced: ‘grasping the large, letting
go of the small’. is involved corporatising large SOEs based on modern enterprise
management principles and privatising small and medium-sized enterprises.
A second thread involved redening the relationship between SOEs and government.
Early reform in this area featured the state sharing prots with enterprises through
ahost of measures aimed at introducing market discipline and accountability.
In 1988, the State Council established the State-owned Assets Administration
Bureau, which was renamed the State-owned Assets Supervision and
AdministrationCommission (SASAC) in 2003. SASAC, on behalf of the state, is
1. 40 years of China’s reform and development: How reform captured China’s demographic dividend
responsible for supervising the central government’s nonnancial state enterprises.
Similar organisations were established at the local level to supervise state assets
owned by local governments.
e third thread was the introduction and then encouragement of nonstate enterprises
(Garnaut et al. 2001). Property rights and governance structures were reformed to
allow a wider range of nonstate enterprises. Competition between enterprises with
dierent kinds of ownership and the introduction of mixed ownership of enterprises
helped to increase the eciency of SOEs.
ere is now considerable competition between enterprises with dierent forms
of ownership. In 2015, of the revenue from businesses with annual revenue of
RMB20million or more, only 4.1 per cent was generated by those registered as SOEs.
e rest was generated by enterprises with 29 other kinds of ownership, including
private individuals and partnerships, limited liability corporations, foreign-funded
enterprises and joint ventures between Chinese and foreign enterprises.
e gradual introduction of prot-based incentives for business units in and outside
agriculture has increased the importance of getting prices right. Having prices
reect true economic value is necessary for ecient resource allocation in a market
economy. Enterprise reform therefore requires eective markets for setting prices for
factors of production, goods and services. Transitions in markets for capital, labour,
goods and services were all achieved through a ‘double-track approach’. For a while,
market and state-determined prices existed alongside each other. Over time, the role
of market prices expanded and that of planned prices declined.
Reforms in other areas have been, by and large, carried out around these main
threads. Problems arising from the process of reform and development have been
dealt with pragmatically as they have arisen.
e overall direction is for the roles of central and local governments to be gradually
transformed from direct involvement in economic activities to promoting equity
and broadly based development through providing basic public services. Around
this general direction of change, there has been a tendency for local governments to
compete fervidly with one another in pursuing growth of GDP and public revenue.
is last characteristic of entrepreneurial government, while running against the
general objectives of reform, has provided powerful impetus to economic growth.
Ithas also led to overinvolvement of government in directly allocating resources,
which has impeded the role of market forces (Chu and Song 2015). Since the
beginning of the second decade of the twenty-rst century, the Chinese Government
has asserted a stronger commitment to providing public goods, including basic
education, social protection, market regulations and macroeconomic policies, rather
than directly participating in business activity.
China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018
China’s opening up to the international economy has proceeded in parallel with
domestic reform. China has beneted in many ways from expanding imports
and exports (Figure 1.4), attracting foreign investment, investing overseas and
participating in global governance. Interaction with the international economy
has helped Chinese enterprises to adopt advanced technologies and management
and, more generally, to become more competitive through exposure to world-class
competition. It has allowed China to translate the demographic dividend into
massive gains from trade.
7.45 8.79
17.96 18.76
31.78 32.02
Figure 1.4 China’s export share of GDP, 1978–2017
Source: IMF (2018).
Impact of demographic dividend
e demographic dividend emerges when growth in the working-age population
exceeds that of the dependent population. Figure 1.5 shows that, in China, the
population window of opportunity coincided with the rst three-and-a-half decades
of reform and opening-up. e demographic dividend began to withdraw a few
years ago.
e low and declining dependency ratio, while it persisted, contributed to China’s
distinctive high growth rate beyond the direct inuence of a high rate of growth in
the labour force. It also contributed to the high savings rate. e abundant supply
of labour from the countryside delays the onset of diminishing returns to capital
and, by so doing, makes capital accumulation a main engine of economic growth.
1. 40 years of China’s reform and development: How reform captured China’s demographic dividend
Figure 1.5 Changing trend of age structure and population window
of opportunity
Source: UN DESA (2015).
rough most of China’s reform period, returns to capital remained extraordinarily
high (Bai et al. 2006). After the Lewis turning point characterised by labour shortage
and wage ination,6 returns to capital have rapidly diminished (Lewis 1954; Bai and
Zhang 2014).
An abundant supply of labour has been widely recognised as a favourable factor for
rapid growth of a developing country when it is catching up with the global frontiers.
Less well understood is that improvement of human capital in the less-developed
countries is greatly assisted by a favourable age structure of the population. is
increases the availability of education—expressed as years of schooling—for the
average new entrant to the labour market (see Cai et al. 2016).
e World Bank (1998) estimated the contribution of labour inputs to GDP
growth—measured in terms of both quantity and quality—to be 17 per cent. Cai
and Zhao (2012) estimated the labour contribution to be 8 per cent and human
capital 4 per cent. Whalley and Zhao (2010) estimated the direct and indirect
contribution of human capital to be as high as 38 per cent.
Labour mobility from lower to higher productivity uses—between rural and urban
areas, among sectors and among regions—contributes signicantly to TFP growth
by increasing allocative eciency. Cai (2017) found that labour productivity
6 For discussions on China’s arrival at the Lewis turning point, see Cai (2015b).
China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018
growth in the period 1978–2015 can be decomposed into 55.1 per cent from
improved performance within each sector (primary, secondary and tertiary), with
the balance from intersectoral movement of labour.
e World Bank (1998) divided TFP growth in China into increased intersectoral
eciency and a residual. It found that the former—namely, productivity growth
resulting from labour movement from lower productivity sectors (agriculture and
SOEs) to higher productivity sectors (nonagricultural sectors and newly established
enterprises)—contributed 16 per cent of the GDP growth in the period 1978–95. Cai
and Wang (1999) found that the labour transfer from agricultural to nonagricultural
sectors constituted the majority of TFP growth and 21 per cent of per capita GDP
growth in the period 1978–98 (Figure 1.6).
Cap ital Contribution
Tot alFact orP rodu ctivit y
Figure 1.6 China’s GDP growth decomposition, 1978–2017
Source: The Conference Board (2018).
Some scholars have taken the dependency ratio as a proxy variable to estimate the
demographic dividend’s contribution to China’s economic growth. Wang and Mason
(2008) estimated the dependency ratio contributed 15 per cent of economic growth
in the period 1982–2000, while Cai and Zhao (2012) estimated it contributed
27per cent in the same period.
1. 40 years of China’s reform and development: How reform captured China’s demographic dividend
ese empirical ndings suggest that the outstanding performance of the Chinese
economy has been the result of reform and opening-up cashing in on advantageous
demographic and other underlying conditions. Cai and Lu (2013) estimated
that the potential GDP growth rate was 9.7 per cent in the period 1979–95 and
10.4percent in 1997–2010.
Cai (2017) estimated that while total employment in rural and urban areas increased
from 402 million in 1978 to 775 million in 2015, the share of agricultural labour
dropped from 69.6 per cent to 18.3 per cent.
Strong employment growth spreads the improvement in living standards. Despite
a widening income gap in most of the reform period, three eects have helped to
disperse the results of reform, opening-up and growth, and so helped to win the
legitimacy of that reform and opening-up.
First is the increase in employment. e expansion of labour-intensive industries
created numerous jobs outside agriculture. In the period 1978–2015, while GDP
and per capita GDP in real terms increased by 29 and 20 times, respectively, real
consumption of rural and urban Chinese households, on average, increased by
16times. For many years, the improvement of people’s living standards owed more
to increased nonagricultural employment than to higher wages.
For example, Cai et al. (2009: 220) estimate that in the period 1997–2004 the
number of migrant workers—dened as rural labourers who worked in cities for six
months or longer—increased from less than 40 million to over 100 million. While
there was no signicant increase in the real wage rate, total wages grew at an annual
rate of 14.9 per cent in real terms. As a result, the share of wages in rural households’
income increased from 24.6 per cent to 34 per cent.
Second is the more recent increase in the wage rate (Garnaut and Huang 2006).
Since the Chinese economy entered the Lewis turning point, or period,7 some time
from 2004, the wages of ordinary workers have increased rapidly. In the period
2003–16, theaverage wage of migrant workers in real terms grew at a rate of 10.1
per cent. Asa consequence, after 2009, the Gini coecient of residents’ income and
the income gap between rural and urban households both fell steadily.
ird is the eect of redistribution policy. Coinciding with the arrival of the Lewis
turning point, China’s central and local governments have intensied redistributive
policies. ese include strengthening the poverty alleviation program in rural areas,
expanding the coverage and equalising the provision of public services, raising
mandatory minimum wages and relaxing household registration control over
population migration (Cai 2016).
7 Garnaut (2013) has noted that in China, as a large and dierentiated country, the Lewis turning point would
not come at a single point in time, but emerge through the economy over a period.
China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018
New development stage and unnished tasks
In the past 40 years, China has gone a long way towards two important systemic
transitions—from a planned to a market economy, and from a dual economy to
neoclassical growth. China has also undergone a rapid demographic transition, from
high to low fertility.
Economic reform and opening-up to the world economy have created an
institutional environment in which a demographic dividend has been translated
into extraordinary economic growth (Table 1.1). Reforms of incentive mechanisms,
enterprise governance, price determination, resource allocation systems, foreign
trade and investment and the macropolicy environment have contributed dierently
at each stage of development.
Table 1.1 Summary of growth sources and their trends
Growth factors How they worked Features and implications
Low dependency ratio conducive to
high savings; unlimited supply of labour
prevents diminishing return on capital
Unsustainable; as labour becomes
scarce, return on capital begins
Quantity of
Population structure guarantees labour
supply, which turns into comparative
advantage in labour-intensive
Unsustainable; demographic dividend
disappears as economy passes Lewis
turning point
Human capital Education expansion and mass labour
entry improves quality of stock of
Education expansion eventually slows,
calling for enhancing its quality and
TFP Increase from improvement of incentives
and resource allocation system
Increasingly challenging and important
to sustain growth; requires new
sources of increase
TFP, of which:
Reallocative eciency of resources
through labour mobility from agriculture
to industrial sectors
Dominant in early stage of
development; diminishes after Lewis
turning point
TFP, of which:
Utilisation of advantage of
backwardness through absorbing
foreign technology and management
As gap narrows, technological
progress increasingly relies on
independent innovation
Population factor Widely dened demographic dividend
is manifested in all factors driving rapid
Diminishes as China ages; second
dividend available from removing
remaining barriers to movement
Source: Authors’ summary.
For a certain period, investment and net exports rather than consumption
contributed disproportionately to economic growth in China (Figure 1.7).
Sustaining strong growth now requires consumption to play a more important
role in driving expansion of the economy. Progress has been made in recent years:
increases in total household and government consumption now exceed increases in
investment (Figure 1.8).
1. 40 years of China’s reform and development: How reform captured China’s demographic dividend
contribution ofnetexporttoGDPgrowth(%)
contribution ofinvestment toGDPgrowth(%)
Figure 1.7 Contribution of consumption, investment and exports to China’s
GDP growth, 1978–2017
Source: NBS (various years).
51.08 50.23 49.13
45.04 46.68 46.72
36.05 36.70 39.35
13.77 14.90 12.33 14.31 13.07
13.83 13.17 13.42 14.28
35.48 34.85
39.53 39.63
42.66 43.21
1978 1980 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016
HouseholdCons umption(%ofGDP)
Investment (%ofGDP)
Figure 1.8 China’s consumption and investment share of GDP, 1978–2017
Source: NBS (various years).
If China is to graduate from upper–middle-income to high-income status, its growth
needs to shift from reliance on increases in labour and capital supply to reliance on
productivity enhancement. is requires more eective markets—and reforms that
are inherently dicult.
As summarised in Table 1.1, after the Chinese economy entered the Lewis turning
point—characterised by a labour shortage and rising wages—the demographic
dividend diminished rapidly. All of the elements that drove rapid growth in the rst
quarter-century of reform became weaker. e potential growth rate was bound to
China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018
decline. A labour shortage means that wages grow faster than productivity. e rapid
increase in the capital–labour ratio leads to a sharp decline in return to investment.
e shrinkage of new entrants to the labour market slows the improvement of
human capital. e deceleration of labour movement from agriculture to other
sectors removes a source of rapid improvement in allocative eciency, leading to
asharp fall in TFP growth.
All of these considerations lower China’s potential growth rate by a considerable
Cai and Lu (2013) estimate that China’s potential growth rate has fallen from about
10 per cent per annum prior to 2010 to 7.6 per cent in the period of the twelfth
ve-year plan (2011–15) and 6.2 per cent in the thirteenth ve-year-plan period
(2016–20). Nevertheless, Cai and Lu (2016) suggest that the decline of China’s
potential growth rate will be smooth and slow and, until 2050, will remain higher
than 3 per cent. e slowdown in the actual growth rate has so far followed this
Growth theories and the lessons of experience show us that growth slows in the
transition from dual-economy development with potential for catching-up with
advanced economies to neoclassical growth at the global technological frontier
(Eichengreen et al. 2013; Barro 2016). However, the pace at which potential growth
falls and the extent to which it deviates from the potential growth rate dier across
countries (Eichengreen et al. 2011).
China will not be exempt from the iron law of regression to the mean in the long
run (Pritchett and Summers 2014). However, by deepening reform and upgrading
its industrial structure, China can prevent its potential growth rate from falling
too fast, nd its way out of the ‘middle-income trap’ and accomplish its goal
Deeper reform is essential to spur on future economic growth. e dierence
between reform and status quo outcomes is dramatically large (Cheremukhim et
al. 2015).
One reason the maintenance of productivity growth through deeper reform is now
more dicult than in earlier decades is that it is now harder to nd improvements
that benet one substantial group in society without hurting others. It is harder
now to nd Pareto improvements of the kind associated with the introduction
is raises new challenges. First, reform now faces resistance and interference
from vested interests. Second, in the course of the ‘creative destruction’ necessary
for tapping new sources of growth, some workers will lose established jobs and
some enterprises will disappear. ere will be perceptions of a public interest case
1. 40 years of China’s reform and development: How reform captured China’s demographic dividend
for slowing reform—the product of what Corden (1974) called the conservative
social welfare function. To meet those challenges, the reform dividend—the added
economic value from new reform measures—should be made available to the losers
of reform. is converts a Pareto improvement into a Kaldor–Hicks improvement
(Scitovsky 1941).8
Successful reform to maintain growth in these circumstances requires political
wisdom and determination. e required policy measures include redening scal
expenditure responsibilities between central and local governments, strengthening
social protection for unemployed workers and disadvantaged families and more
generally compensating the losers from reform.
ere is some opportunity for allocative gains from moving people from agricultural
and other rural employment into employment with higher productivity in the towns,
through removing articial barriers to relocation. is, too, faces resistance from
established urban residents. Again, wisdom and determination from government are
required to unlock a reform dividend.
Future TFP growth will have to come, to a considerable extent, from innovation,
involving Schumpeterian ‘creative destruction’. Studies suggest that in developed
countries, allocative eciency relating to the entry, expansion, contraction and exit
of rms within narrowly dened sectors can contribute one-third to one-half of
national productivity growth (Foster et al. 2008). To make such a mechanism work
in China requires deepening reforms to increase competition, break monopolies,
encourage entrepreneurial activities and strengthen social protection.
e road ahead will be harder in some important respects than the road already
travelled. e dierence between continuing along the road and staying still is the
dierence between China joining the ranks of the high-income countries and being
caught in a middle-income trap (Armstrong and Westland 2016).
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8 A ‘Kaldor improvement’ refers to a change in which the total gains outweigh the total losses so that it is possible
for beneciaries—perhaps through government—to compensate nonbeneciaries for the losses they suer.
Asaresult, no one suers in the end. See Kaldor (1939).
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is text is taken from China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development: 1978–2018,
edited by RossGarnaut, Ligang Song and Cai Fang, published 2018 by
ANUPress, eAustralian National University, Canberra, Australia.
... Their self-reflection and defiance to the new population policy is embodied by the top trending comment online when China announced the three-children policy: "Having another child is a service to the nation, but a disservice to myself and my kids. (Wang et al., 2016), citing China's relatively low income per capita, it is imperative to see that this retiring cohort overall is the wealthiest of all generations in China's history (Cai, Garnaut, and Song, 2018). Perhaps a more prominent issue is severe inequality. ...
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Home to over 1.4 billion residents, China has been the world’s most populous country for centuries. While population growth had been largely natural in China’s long history, population policies and controls had become an integral part of Chinese policymaking since the late 19th century. After the Communist Party overtook the regime in 1949, population policies became even more pivotal, if volatile and willful at times. In this essay, I will first show that there is indeed a significant population aging crisis brewing within China, which could mark a fundamental metamorphosis that decimates China’s population dividend. I will further state that this belated policy turnaround is already highly unlikely to prepare the Chinese population for the looming population aging crisis, nor is it a promising idea to play this population catch-up game, because it will incur an even heavier burden for the working age population in the next decade. And finally, I will propose alternate solutions to the looming population crisis that look beyond simply boosting birth rates, in the form of a fairer redistribution system and pension system reform that alleviates anxieties and burdens of the working class as well as elderly population.
... 39 These claims can be regarded as hollow rhetoric. Fang, Cai, et al. (2018), "40 Years of China's Reform and Development: How Reform Captured China's been referred to as a form of 'kinship capitalism', 'network capitalism', 'power-elite capitalism' or 'crony communism'. 40 Despite the government's formal commitment to socialism, as noted above, it allowed or even promoted the emergence of a class of super-wealthy and a sharp rise in inequality in income and wealth, in conflict with socialist principles. ...
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A Planetary Tragedy addresses the question why, some 50 years after ‘the environment’ became a topic of public concern, efforts to address environmental problems have by and large failed and the world appears to be headed for a disastrous future. Although over these years, governments have adopted a raft of national and international measures to combat environmental issues, most of these have proven to be inadequate and the rate of environmental degradation has continued unabated. The book critically surveys and analyses the environmental performance of countries, in particular some that have been regarded as ‘environmental leaders’ and identifies and discusses three broad reasons for this failure. First, the way environmental problems have been predominantly interpreted, which largely ignores the deep and interconnected nature of the environmental challenge; second, the failure to recognise, let alone address, the systemic sources and causes of environmental problems; third, the power structures in the prevailing political-economic systems, which make it virtually impossible to fundamentally change those systems and to put societies onto a path towards sustainability. Covering an extensive literature, the book draws on research, theories, findings, and ideas from the fields of environmental politics and policy, including comparative, international, and global analyses and perspectives, environmental sociology and history, economics and the environment, political and social theory, and environmental management. It puts forward a framework that can assist in taking a comprehensive and integrated approach to the environmental challenge, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of a range of theoretical perspectives, clarifies key concepts and factors central to better understanding the systemic issues and obstacles lying at the heart of the environmental challenge, and puts forward ideas on how to strategically address the enormous imbalance of power that stands in the way of transformative change. While not offering a basis for facile optimism, it puts the finger on what will be needed to prevent the world from sliding further towards the abyss.
... China's consistent, rapid economic growth over four decades was made possible by a good combination of economic reform and opening (Lin 2013a) and its demographic structure (Cai et al. 2018). The strong incentive effects of reform and opening matched so well with China's abundant supply of labour (initially low skilled, then shifting towards highly skilled at later stages of development) during the high-growth period in explaining the fundamental pattern of China's economic development (Li et al. 2012). ...
The paper examines the development of demographic policies throughout the history of the People’s Republic of China, makes predictions for future trends and offers potential solutions based on quantitative analysis. The policies focused on controlling the fertility rate control, with measures first advocated by the government and then made a part of administration regulation, with further changes at legislative level. The author shows that while the Chinese population is growing, but fertility is decreasing and concludes that the population will decrease in the near future unless the situation changes. That explains the adjustments made by the Chinese government which is integrating demographic policies into the country’s long-term strategies.
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A Planetary Tragedy addresses the question of why, some 50 years after the environment became a topic of public concern, efforts to address environmental problems have by and large failed and the world appears to be heading for a disastrous future. Although over these years, governments have adopted a raft of national and international measures to combat environmental issues, most of these have proven to be inadequate and the rate of environmental degradation has continued unabated. The book critically surveys and analyses the environmental performance of countries, in particular, some that have been regarded as environmental leaders, and identifies and discusses three broad reasons for this failure. First, the way environmental problems have been predominantly interpreted, which largely ignores the deep and interconnected nature of the environmental challenge; second, the failure to recognise, let alone address, the systemic sources and causes of environmental problems; third, the power structures in the prevailing political-economic systems, which make it virtually impossible to fundamentally change those systems and to put societies onto a path towards sustainability. Covering an extensive literature, the book draws on research, theories, findings, and ideas from the fields of environmental politics and policy, including comparative, international, and global analyses and perspectives, environmental sociology and history, economics and the environment, political and social theory, and environmental management. It puts forward a framework that can assist in taking a comprehensive and integrated approach to the environmental challenge, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of a range of theoretical perspectives, clarifies key concepts and factors central to better understanding the systemic issues and obstacles lying at the heart of the environmental challenge, and puts forward ideas on how to strategically address the enormous imbalance of power that stands in the way of transformative change. The main suggestion is the creation of national-level Sovereign People’s Authorities based on the principle of popular sovereignty that will enable societies to democratically steer themselves towards a sustainable and desirable future.
This thesis argues that there is a genre of film concerned with the travels of disenfranchised women in 21st century Chinese cinema. An identifiable set of film narratives have largely emerged in China’s neoliberal moment since the 1980s; and especially after the 2000s when China has been more engaged with the processes of globalisation, modernisation, urbanisation (Rofel 2007; Ong and Zhang 2008). Such a socio-economic procedure has stimulated massive population flows, spatial transition and development-induced displacement, uprooting and destabilising identity and sense of belonging (Wagner et al. 2014; Chen and Yang 2013). These subjects are often dislocated physically and socially from the dreams of the nouveau-riche and older cosmopolitan subjectivities that surround them. Heroines in such a cinema are either the village/suburban indigenous whose intra-village travels define their status of marginalisation and resistance, the rural migrants who have worked or lived in the city and choose to return, or urban middle-class women who are troubled by urban lives and set off on journeys to remote regions for self-revival. I argue that, in the cinema of dislocation, on the one hand, heroines are all displaced to various degrees by their unique circumstances; on the other hand, the status of dislocation serves as the women’s agency and empowers them, enabling them to seek for a new sense of location, belonging and identity during their travels and search for homecoming. Apart from contextual and thematic exploration, the challenges for this thesis will be to identify the other qualities that will justify defining the Cinema of Dislocation definitively as a genre of Chinese film in its own right: the network of directors, a shared aesthetic, distinctive dislocation narratives and cinematographies, and a degree of flexibility that allows the genre to develop.
The past forty years of world development have seen multiple operational frameworks, most notably, the neoliberal Washington Consensus or structural adjustment policies (1981–2001), the international development framework guided by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG, 2000–2015), and the Chinese Economic Model or Beijing Consensus emerging from Deng Xiaoping’s reforms (1978-present). I criticize the Washington Consensus as an economic, ethical-political, and environmental failure. I cast doubt both on the novelty and efficacy of the frameworks to enact the Millennium Development Goals by showing that they largely repackage structural adjustment policies in democratic terms and contribute far less to recent global successes than alternative Chinese and Indian models. I describe the Chinese Economic Model as both a far more successful domestic economic alternative to the hegemonic Western models and a problematic export with the potential to transform as well as to destabilize developing countries. Finally, I articulate conditions for an alternative that would enact the democratic rhetoric of the Millennium Development Goals, learn from the domestic scale of infrastructure and education spending, the national focus, local implementation, and recent environmental experiments of the Chinese Economic Model, and recognize the environment’s fundamental significance to development.
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Soğuk Savaş döneminde az gelişmiş üçüncü dünya statüsünde olan Çin ve Hindistan 20. yüzyılın son çeyreğinde art arda ekonomik reform politikalarını hayata geçirmeye başlamış, hızlı büyüme gerçekleştirerek günümüzde dünya ekonomisi ve siyasetine yön verebilecek büyük güç statüsüne yükselmiştir. Oldukça hızlı büyümekte olan ekonomisi, gittikçe artmakta olan milyonlarca orta sınıfı, sanayi, bilgi ve teknolojisiyle Amerika ve Avrupa gibi gelişmiş ülkelere rakip olarak ortaya çıkmaktadır. Bu çalışmada öncelikle, Çin ve Hindistan’ın takip ettiği farklı ekonomik model ve politikalarının ülkelerinin gelişmesini nasıl etkilediği incelenmiştir. Reform öncesi ve sonrasındaki gelişmeleri karşılaştırılarak iktisat politikaları ve takip ettiği stratejilerin ülkenin ekonomik kalkınmasındaki önemi tartışılmıştır. Son olarak iki ülke arasındaki farklı gelişme performansına sebep olan unsurlar hakkında değerlendirme yapılmıştır.
Um das heutige Selbstverständnis und Selbstbewusstsein Chinas zu begreifen, soll ein Blick in die chinesische Geschichte erfolgen, der hier nur als knappe Exkursion stattfinden kann. Obwohl es in den letzten 150 Jahren auch in China zu massiven Umbrüchen im Staatsapparat kam, verweist die chinesische Regierung bis heute auf die traditionellen Wurzeln aus der frühen Geschichte. Die Idee einer konstanten Entwicklung vom antiken China bis zum heutigen „Global Player“ ist geschichtswissenschaftlich nicht unproblematisch, hat aber entscheidenden Einfluss auf die chinesische Sicht auf das eigene Land und den Rest der Welt.
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With the reduction of the working-age population and the increase of the population dependency ratio as the main indicators of the diminishing demographic dividend, China's potential growth rate is decreasing. Our results suggest that the demographic dividend contributed to nearly one fourth of the economic growth in China in the past three decades, while total factor productive growth explains another third and capital accumulation explaining the remaining growth (nearly half). China's potential growth rate will continue to slow—it was nearly 10 per cent during 1980–2010 but 6.65 per cent on average during 2016–2020—because of the diminishing demographic dividend, but reform measures are conductive to clearing the institutional barriers to the supply of factors and productivity, buffering the potential growth rate. The aggregate reform dividend could reach to 1–2 per cent on average during 2016–2050.
From the perspective of conditional convergence, China's GDP growth rate since 1990 has been surprisingly high. However, China cannot deviate forever from the global historical experience, and the per capita growth rate is likely to fall soon from around 8 percent per year to a range of 3–4 percent. China can be viewed as a middle-income convergence success story, grouped with Costa Rica, Indonesia, Peru, Thailand and Uruguay. Upper-income convergence successes (toward which China is likely heading) include Chile, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.
Since the start of gradualist economic reform and opening up in the late 1970s and through its relentless efforts to join and operate within the World Trade Organization in 2001, China has been deepening its participation in economic globalization and engagement in the market-based allocation of resources. The reform and opening up so far has achieved considerable success, as it has fulfilled its original policy design — leading to significant improvements in its economic growth and people’s income level. As it replaced Japan as the world’s second-largest economy in 2010, its per capita GDP has hit $4,300 — according to World Bank estimates — and it has become a middle-income economy.
Using HWA-MWECR-CVD system μc-Si; H thin films were prepared. The influences of hydrogen dilution ratio, reaction pressure and microwave power on the amorphous to microcrystalline phase transition, deposition rate and photo-electronic properties of thin films were studied. The experimental results showed that under the conditions of 94% hydrogen dilution ratio, 1.5 Pa reaction pressure and 500 W microwave power, high-quality μc-Si:H thin films were obtained, such as high photosensitivity of 2.86 * 104, high deposition rate of about 1 nm/s and low light-induced degradation rate of 8.9%, etc.