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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.

The Mandarin Model of Growth

Wei Xiong, Feb 13, 2019

The Mandarin model is defined by two key features of the Chinese economy. First, the government takes a central role in driving the economy through its active investment in infrastructure. Second, the agency problems between the central and local governments can lead to a rich set of phenomena in the Chinese economy--not only rapid economic growth propelled by the tournament among local governors, but also short-termist behaviors of local governors that directly affect China’s economic and financial stability.

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.

Do Innovation Subsidies Make Chinese Firms More Innovative?

Hong Cheng, Hanbing Fan, Takeo Hoshi, Dezhuang Hu, Apr 24, 2019

The Chinese government has been using various subsidies to encourage innovations by Chinese firms. We examine the allocation and impacts of innovation subsidies, using the data from the China Employer Employee Survey (CEES). We find that the innovation subsidies are preferentially allocated to state-owned firms and politically connected firms...