In recent decades it has been debated whether China’s growth performance is primarily driven by capital accumulation (more inputs) or rather by an increase in Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth (better technology and institutions). The answer to this question may offer a glimpse into the future trends of China’s economic growth. If the perspiration factors are dominant, one should expect a slowdown in the growth of the Chinese economy in accordance with the traditional Solow model. If, however, TFP growth drives per capita GDP growth, one can expect a strong convergence of China toward the technological frontier. In this paper we combine historical, long-term analysis with quantitative methods to find out whether the effect of (both human- and physical) capital and TFP on growth changed over the last 90 years. While partly relying on existing data, lack of information required us to estimate a new dataset on human capital for the provinces of China between 1922 and 2010 which allows us to decompose the observed economic growth into accumulation driven and TFP driven parts. We find that general technological development improved steadily over the course of the 1990s and 2000s.
China, economic development, human capital, technology
van Leeuwen, Bas, Jieli van Leeuwen-Li, and Peter Foldvari. “Human capital in Republican and New China: regional and long-term trends.” Economic History of Developing Regions 32.1 (2017): 1-36.
van Leeuwen, B., van Leeuwen-Li, J., & Foldvari, P. (2017). Human capital in Republican and New China: regional and long-term trends. Economic History of Developing Regions, 32(1), 1-36.
van Leeuwen, Bas, Jieli van Leeuwen-Li, and Peter Foldvari. “Human capital in Republican and New China: regional and long-term trends.” Economic History of Developing Regions 32, no. 1 (2017): 1-36.
van Leeuwen, B., van Leeuwen-Li, J. and Foldvari, P., 2017. Human capital in Republican and New China: regional and long-term trends. Economic History of Developing Regions, 32(1), pp.1-36.
van Leeuwen B, van Leeuwen-Li J, Foldvari P. Human capital in Republican and New China: regional and long-term trends. Economic History of Developing Regions. 2017 Jan 2;32(1):1-36.
In recent decades, national income has become increasingly important as a measure of a nation’s economic health. In this study, we used a wide array of primary and secondary sources to arrive at values of the Chinese per capita gross domestic product during the period of 1661–1933. We found a persistent decline in the per capita gross domestic product between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, followed by a period of stagnation. This pattern, which shows up in many Asian countries, with the exception of Japan, provides a basis for improving our understanding of the patterns of global economic convergence and divergence.
Combining the sectoral accounting method of the System of National Accounts(SNA) with new statistical materials from the United Nations, as well as historical research into various countries around the world, this paper arrives at an estimate of value added of Chinese and world industries between 1850 and 2012. In doing so, we not only modify past work by Paul Bairoch, but also arrive at significantly different conclusions about China’s position in world industrialization.
Since the 1990s, thanks to the concerted efforts of domestic and international scholars, the research on China’s historical GDP that began in the 1930s has received widespread attention, and is becoming a widely discussed issue at the forefront of research on world economic history. At the same time, several scholars at home and abroad have also voiced a call for more theoretical and empirical reflection within this line of research. Diversification of methods, systematic reconstruction of historical data, and international comparisons represent three emerging trends in future research on this subject. By encouraging and leading these trends, Chinese scholars can assume a greater role in international research on economic history.