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China's Great Boom as a Historical Process

Loren Brandt and Thomas Rawski

No 13940, IZA Discussion Papers from Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Abstract: Beginning in the late 1970s, China's economy delivered the largest growth spurt in recorded history. Striking discontinuity between recent outcomes and the economic experience of the prior 200 years invites portrayal of recent events as a "China miracle" that requires neither economic nor historical analysis. This overlooks deep institutional constraints arising from authoritarian rule and its supporting elite networks and fails to recognize the link between central government weakness and the origins of the recent boom. In both the pre-1949 treaty ports and in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution, the retreat of central control enabled episodes of economic openness and dynamism built upon 'bottom up' initiative and decentralized innovation. Historic legacies that shape political structures and individual behavior will continue to influence China's economic trajectory.

Keywords: China; economic boom; growth constraints; authoritarian rule; elite networks; governmental weakness; innovation; productivity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L2 N1 N4 O4 O5 P3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 76 pages
Date: 2020-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cna, nep-gro and nep-his
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