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Economic reforms and industrial policy in a panel of Chinese cities


Alder, Simon; Shao, Lin; Zilibotti, Fabrizio (2013). Economic reforms and industrial policy in a panel of Chinese cities. UBS Center Working Paper Series 5, University of Zurich : UBS International Center of Economics in Society.

Abstract

The process of economic reforms launched in 1978, and gradually extended until current days, has catapulted China into a stellar growth trajectory that has proven highly resilient. In this paper, we estimate the effect on economic development of China’s industrial policy, in particular, the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), a salient economic reform. We use data from a panel of 276 Chinese cities and prefectures from 1988 to 2010. Our difference-in-difference estimator exploits the variation in the establishment of SEZ across time and space. We find that the establishment of a state-level SEZ is associated with an increase in the level of GDP of about 20%, but not with a permanently steeper growth path. This finding is confirmed with alternative specifications and in a sub-sample of inland provinces, where the selection of cities to host the zones was based on administrative criteria. Decomposing the effect of SEZ on GDP into different channels shows that this worked mainly through the accumulation of physical capital, although there is some evidence of increasing productivity and human capital investments. Using light intensity as an alternative measure for economic activity confirms the positive effects of SEZ.

The process of economic reforms launched in 1978, and gradually extended until current days, has catapulted China into a stellar growth trajectory that has proven highly resilient. In this paper, we estimate the effect on economic development of China’s industrial policy, in particular, the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), a salient economic reform. We use data from a panel of 276 Chinese cities and prefectures from 1988 to 2010. Our difference-in-difference estimator exploits the variation in the establishment of SEZ across time and space. We find that the establishment of a state-level SEZ is associated with an increase in the level of GDP of about 20%, but not with a permanently steeper growth path. This finding is confirmed with alternative specifications and in a sub-sample of inland provinces, where the selection of cities to host the zones was based on administrative criteria. Decomposing the effect of SEZ on GDP into different channels shows that this worked mainly through the accumulation of physical capital, although there is some evidence of increasing productivity and human capital investments. Using light intensity as an alternative measure for economic activity confirms the positive effects of SEZ.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > UBS International Center of Economics in Society
03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > UBS Center Working Paper Series
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:H72, L52, O25, O38, O53, P21, R11
Uncontrolled Keywords:China, economic growth, economic reforms, difference-in-difference, industrial policy, investments, satellite light, total factor productivity, Special Economic Zones
Language:English
Date:November 2013
Deposited On:18 Dec 2013 16:25
Last Modified:24 Nov 2016 12:42
Series Name:UBS Center Working Paper Series
Number of Pages:45
ISSN:2296-2751
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://www.ubscenter.uzh.ch/assets/workingpapers/WP5_Economic_Reforms_and_Industrial_Policy_in_a_Panel_of_Chinese_Cities.pdf
Related URLs:http://www.ubscenter.uzh.ch/en/publications/workingpapers
http://www.zora.uzh.ch/127847/
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-87075

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