nep-cna New Economics Papers
on China
Issue of 2021‒01‒11
seven papers chosen by
Zheng Fang
Ohio State University

  1. Special Deals from Special Investors: The Rise of State-Connected Private Owners in China By Chong-En Bai; Chang-Tai Hsieh; Zheng Michael Song; Xin Wang
  2. Trade Shocks and Firms Hiring Decisions: By He, Chuan; Mau, Karsten; Xu, Mingzhi
  3. China's Financial Opening Accelerates By Nicholas R. Lardy; Tianlei Huang
  4. The Effect of Computer-Assisted Learning on Students' Long-Term Development By Nicola Bianchi; Yi Lu; Hong Song
  5. More R&D, less growth? China's decreasing research productivity in international comparison By Boeing, Philipp; Hünermund, Paul
  6. Pension Policies, Retirement and Human Capital Depreciation in Late Adulthood By Nikolov, Plamen; Adelman, Alan
  7. China's Great Boom as a Historical Process By Brandt, Loren; Rawski, Thomas G.

  1. By: Chong-En Bai; Chang-Tai Hsieh; Zheng Michael Song; Xin Wang
    Abstract: We use administrative registration records with information on the owners of all Chinese firms to document the importance of “connected” investors, defined as state-owned firms or private owners with equity ties with state-owned firms, in the businesses of private owners. We document a hierarchy of private owners: the largest private owners have direct investments from state-owned firms, the next largest private owners have equity investments from private owners that themselves have equity ties with state owners, and the smallest private owners do not have any ties with state owners. The network of connected private owners has expanded over the last two decades. The share of registered capital of connected private owners increased by almost 20 percentage points between 2000 and 2019, driven by two trends. First, state owned firms have increased their investments in joint ventures with private owners. Second, private owners with equity ties to state owners also increasingly invest in joint ventures with other (smaller) private owners. The expansion in the “span” of connected owners from these investments with private owners may have increased aggregate output of the private sector by 4.2% a year between 2000 and 2019.
    JEL: E0 F0 O0 P0
    Date: 2020–12
  2. By: He, Chuan; Mau, Karsten (RS: GSBE other - not theme-related research, Macro, International & Labour Economics); Xu, Mingzhi
    Abstract: This paper studies the hiring behavior of firms exposed to the recent China-US trade war. Our analysis leverages information from a Chinese online job board and a firm-level measure of tariff exposure obtained from customs transactions data. Firms that are more exposed to US tariffs on Chinese goods responded by posting fewer job vacancies and offering lower wages. The latter is partly balanced out by increased non-wage compensation. We also find a negative relationship between US-tariff exposure and the educational background required in firms’ job ads. China’s retaliatory tariffs against the US does not appear to have a statistically significant systematic impact on hiring. The paper also reports heterogeneous adjustment patterns across firms of different size, ownership and product mix. Overall, the trade war reveals to have negative impact on firms and job-seekers in China.
    JEL: D22 F13 F14 J23
    Date: 2021–01–05
  3. By: Nicholas R. Lardy (Peterson Institute for International Economics); Tianlei Huang (Peterson Institute for International Economics)
    Abstract: Despite predictions by some observers that the United States and China are headed for a “decoupling,” China’s integration into global financial markets is accelerating. Regulatory reform has opened China’s financial market to many US and other foreign financial institutions. Foreign ownership of onshore Chinese stocks and bonds is growing rapidly and is likely to continue to expand in 2021. And inbound foreign direct investment (FDI) is on track to hit a new record in 2020. This integration is very asymmetric, however. China retains relatively tight control over both outbound direct investment and outflows of portfolio capital. US efforts to roll back the trend of deepening financial integration by threatening to delist Chinese companies traded on US markets and prohibiting any US investment in 35 Chinese companies that the Department of Defense alleges to be linked to the Chinese military appear to be largely symbolic.
    Date: 2020–12
  4. By: Nicola Bianchi; Yi Lu; Hong Song
    Abstract: In this paper, we examine the effect of computer-assisted learning on students’ long-term development. We explore the implementation of the “largest ed-tech intervention in the world to date,” which connected China’s best teachers to more than 100 million rural students through satellite internet. We find evidence that exposure to the program improved students’ academic achievement, labor performance, and computer usage. We observe these effects up to ten years after program implementation. These findings indicate that education technology can have long-lasting positive effects on a variety of outcomes and can be effective in reducing the rural–urban education gap.
    JEL: I24 I26 I28 O15 O38
    Date: 2020–12
  5. By: Boeing, Philipp; Hünermund, Paul
    Abstract: Innovation is widely considered the primary driver of growth in high-income economies. The efficiency by which an economy is able to transform research & development (R&D) inputs into output growth is captured by the measure of research productivity. In a recent study we were able to show that research productivity is declining over time, not just in the U.S., which has been shown before, but also in China and Germany. This implies that new ideas and innovations are universally harder to find. In Germany, business R&D spending has increased by an average of approximately 3.3% per year during the last three decades. At the same time, research productivity has fallen on average by 5.2% per year, which is very similar to the estimates obtained for the U.S. In China, we observe a substantial expansion of research activities during the first and second decade of this century, indicated by a growth rate of 21.9% in research spending. The resulting output growth, however, is not proportional to such inputs, which is reflected by a 23.8% decrease in estimated research productivity, or a reduction by half in only three years. We argue that China's substantial decrease in research productivity is related to diminishing returns to technological catching-up as well as mission-driven policy targeting technological self-sufficiency and national security.
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Nikolov, Plamen (State University of New York); Adelman, Alan (State University of New York)
    Abstract: Economists have mainly focused on human capital accumulation and considerably less on the causes and consequences of human capital depreciation in late adulthood. Studying human capital depreciation over the life cycle has powerful economic consequences for decision-making in old age. Using data from China, we examine how a new retirement program affects cognitive performance. We find large negative effects of pension benefits on cognitive functioning among the elderly. We detect the most substantial impact of the program on delayed recall, a significant predictor of the onset of dementia. We show suggestive evidence that the program leads to larger negative impacts among women. We demonstrate that retirement and access to a retirement pension plan plays a significant role in explaining cognitive decline at older ages.
    Keywords: life cycle, cognitive functioning, cognition, aging, health, mental retirement, middle-income countries, LMICs, developing countries, China
    JEL: O12 J24 J26 H55 H75 O15
    Date: 2020–12
  7. By: Brandt, Loren (University of Toronto); Rawski, Thomas G. (University of Pittsburgh)
    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
    JEL: L2 N1 N4 O4 O5 P3
    Date: 2020–12

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