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Bigger Than You Thought: China's Contribution to Scientific Publications and Its Impact on the Global Economy

Qingnan Xie and Richard B. Freeman

China & World Economy, 2019, vol. 27, issue 1, 1-27

Abstract: China's advance to the forefront of scientific research is one of the 21st century's most surprising developments, with implications for a world where knowledge is arguably “the one ring that rules them all.” This paper provides new estimates of China's contribution to global science that far exceed estimates based on the proportion of papers with Chinese addresses in databases of international journals. Address‐based measures ignore articles written by Chinese researchers with non‐Chinese addresses and articles in Chinese language journals not indexed in those databases. Taking account of these contributions, we attribute 36 percent of 2016 global scientific articles to China. Taking account of increased citations to Chinese‐addressed articles relative to the global average as well, we attribute 37 percent of global citations to scientific articles published in 2013 to China. With shares of articles and citations more than twice its share of global population or GDP, China has achieved a comparative advantage in knowledge that has implications for the division of labor and trade among countries and for the direction of research and of technological and economic development worldwide.

Date: 2019
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