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China’s productivity performance revisited

It has been claimed that over 40% of China’s post-reform GDP growth could be attributed to growth in total factor productivity. This column argues that this claim is based on a mis-specified model applied to misused aggregate data. Using a growth accounting framework, it shows that Chinese ICT-producing and ICT-using manufacturing industries were the most important drivers of productivity growth between 1981 and 2012, enabling the economy to compensate for heavy productivity losses caused by misallocation of capital and government interventions.
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