NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Who Shrunk China? Puzzles in the Measurement of Real GDP

Robert C. Feenstra, Hong Ma, J. Peter Neary, D.S. Prasada Rao

NBER Working Paper No. 17729
Issued in January 2012
NBER Program(s):   ITI

The latest World Bank estimates of real GDP per capita for China are significantly lower than previous ones. We review possible sources of this puzzle and conclude that it reflects a combination of factors, including substitution bias in consumption, reliance on urban prices which we estimate are higher than rural ones, and the use of an expenditure-weighted rather than an output-weighted measure of GDP. Taking all these together, we estimate that real per-capita GDP in China was 50% higher relative to the U.S. in 2005 than the World Bank estimates.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17729

Published: Robert C. Feenstra & Hong Ma & J. Peter Neary & D.S. Prasada Rao, 2013. "Who Shrunk China? Puzzles in the Measurement of Real GDP," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 123(12), pages 1100-1129, December. citation courtesy of

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