MPFD working paper on China's productivity: past success and future challenges

Working paper8 Aug 2016

During the last three and half decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth, with the average annual GDP growth rate being 9.3% for 1978 to 2014. At that rate, real GDP doubles every seven years. China’s real per capita GDP has risen from only 5.5% of the U.S. level in 1978 to about 25% in 2014. In 2014 the per capita GDP has reached about $7584 US dollars (current price, World Development Indicators), or $12608 international dollar (2011-year PPP constant price, World Development Indicators), which is about 31% of the level of high income OECD countries. As a result, China has transformed from one of the poorest agricultural countries in the late 1970s to the second largest economy in the world, accounting for 16.6 percent of global GDP in 2014. China and other emerging markets now represent the majority of the growth of global demand, and have become one of the major engines for the global economic growth.

China's economic growth has shown a declining trend since the breakout of the global financial crisis in 2008, especially after 2011, and is still under the downward pressure, which is likely to continue in the next couple of years, according to the IMF’s and other forecasts. GDP growth decreased to 7.3% in 2014, and 6.9% in the first three quarters of 2015, which were lower than the average in the last three decades, and the lowest since 2000. The Chinese government claims that the Chinese economy has entered a state of “new normal”, meaning that the gear of growth is shifted down from high to medium-to-high speed.