NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

From "Made in China" to "Innovated in China": Necessity, Prospect, and Challenges

Shang-Jin Wei, Zhuan Xie, Xiaobo Zhang

NBER Working Paper No. 22854
Issued in November 2016
NBER Program(s):   DEV

After more than three decades of high growth that was based on an exploration of its low-wage advantage and a relatively favorable demographic pattern in combination with market-oriented reforms and openness to the world economy, China is at a crossroad with a much higher wage and a shrinking work force. Future growth by necessity would have to depend more on its ability to generate productivity increase, and domestic innovation will be an important part of it. In this paper, we assess the likelihood that China can make the necessary transition. Using data on expenditure on research and development, and patent applications, receipts, and citations, we show that the Chinese economy has become increasingly innovative. In terms of drivers of innovation growth, we find that embracing expanded market opportunities in the world economy and responding to rising labor costs are two leading contributing factors. On the other hand, we find evidence of resource misallocation in the innovation area: while state-owned firms receive more subsidies, private firms exhibit more innovation results. Innovation can presumably progress even faster if resource misallocation can be tackled.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22854

Published: Shang-Jin Wei & Zhuan Xie & Xiaobo Zhang, 2017. "From "Made in China" to "Innovated in China": Necessity, Prospect, and Challenges," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 49-70, Winter. citation courtesy of

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