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Industrial Policy in China: Some Intended or Unintended Consequences?

Jing Cai, Ann E. Harrison, May 30, 2018

We explore the consequences of a 2004 tax change in China that reduced the value-added tax (VAT) on equipment investment. While the goal was to encourage technology upgrades, we find little evidence that the reform achieved its intended results. Although firms shifted the composition of investment toward machinery, actual investment rates were unaffected. Firms replaced labor with machinery, leading employment to fall significantly in the treated provinces and sectors. Our results suggest that the primary impact of the policy was to induce labor-saving investment.

How the Internet Changed Chinese Exports before Ali Baba Came

Ana M. Fernandes, Aaditya Mattoo, Huy Nguyen, Marc Schiffbauer, May 16, 2018

The roll-out of the internet in China boosted firms’ exports and overall performance even before the rise of broadband and major e-commerce platforms. This finding is relevant for the many developing countries trying to strike a balance between widening access to basic internet services and deepening it through the creation of broadband networks and connections to major e-commerce platforms.

The Dynamic Effects of Computerized VAT Invoices on Chinese Manufacturing Firms

Haichao Fan, Yu Liu, Nancy Qian, Jaya Wen, Aug 08, 2018

This investigation uses a balanced panel of large manufacturing firms to provide novel evidence on the dynamic effects of computerizing VAT invoices on tax revenues and firm behavior in China, 1998-2007. We find that computerization increases cumulative VAT revenues and increases the effective average tax rate. Furthermore, the evidence suggests that the effects of computerization change over time: tax revenue gains are likely to be smaller in the long run. Meanwhile, firms reduce output and input, and increase productivity monotonically over time.

Who Captures the Power of Pen?

Jiaxing You, Bohui Zhang, Le Zhang, Oct 17, 2018

We study how government control affects the roles of the media as an information intermediary and a corporate monitor. Comparing a large sample of news articles written by state-controlled and market-oriented Chinese media, we find that articles by the market-oriented media are more critical, more accurate, more comprehensive, and timelier than those by the state-controlled media. Moreover, only articles by the market-oriented media have a significant corporate governance impact. Subsample analyses, interviews with journalists, and a survey of university students suggest that the market-oriented media’s superior effects are explained by their operating efficiency and independence.

Do Richer Households Exit Agriculture? Positive Income Shocks in Rural China

Jessica Leight, Jul 18, 2018

Rural households in China have experienced a steadily increasing rise in their real income over the last twenty years as economic reforms have revitalized this sector. Analyzing an unusual natural experiment generated by an increase in prices paid for mandatory grain procurement in China post-1993, I seek to provide evidence around how an increase in permanent income affects households’ production portfolio. Evidence suggests that households experiencing positive income shocks substitute away from agricultural production and are more likely to migrate and to invest in non-agricultural production. They also increase their observed levels of borrowing and non-staple consumption.