Francisco Costa, Jason Garred, João Pessoa, 24 September 2017

In addition to being a competitor for other countries’ industries, China has also become an increasingly important consumer of goods produced elsewhere. This column looks at how the steep rise in ‘commodities-for-manufactures’ trade with China has affected workers in Brazil. While the analysis confirms a negative effect of Chinese import competition on employees of manufacturing firms, it also suggests that growth in trade with China has created some winners in Brazil, with wages rising more quickly in parts of the country benefiting more from increasing Chinese demand.

Kalina Manova, Zhihong Yu, 22 September 2017

Pinpointing how multi-product firms organise their operations is key for understanding the drivers of global competitiveness. This column presents a theory on the behaviour of multi-product firms when cost and quality competitiveness jointly determine export performance. Using Chinese data, it finds that firms’ production and sales activity across products and markets is governed by a product hierarchy based on quality. This phenomenon also determines how firms respond to economic shocks.

Peter Robertson, Longfeng Ye, 11 September 2017

The conventional wisdom is that labour reallocation has been a key driver of China’s growth miracle, and slowing migrant labour flows and rapid wage growth have raised concerns over whether this source of growth has run its course. This column argues that the literature on growth and labour reallocation in China has been dominated by a method that, relative to the now standard growth accounting model, substantially overstates the gains. Allowing for this and for human capital differences across sectors, sectoral labour reallocation has not been a key source of productivity growth in China.

Dalia Marin, 07 September 2017

Previous research has shown that China's entry into the WTO in 2001 has had a profound impact on jobs and wages of low-skilled workers in the US in sectors exposed to Chinese imports. The same is not true for Germany. This column argues this is because the import-side trade adjustment to low-cost competition had already happened before the rise of China, because the rise of Eastern Europe offered new export opportunities for German firms, and because China’s love for product quality found a perfect match in German products.

Antoine Bouët, David Laborde, 06 September 2017

During his election campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly announced that he would impose tariffs on imports from China, Mexico, and Germany. This column evaluates the likely outcomes should the US instigate trade wars by imposing such tariffs. In all scenarios, the net effect on US welfare and GDP is either zero or negative. Such trade wars would also have wider negative effects for the trading partners, and potentially, the world economy.

Myrto Kalouptsidi, 09 September 2017

China’s shipbuilders have doubled their market share in recent years. It is hard to determine the role of industrial policy, particularly subsidies, in this because we do not know what policies are in place. This column argues that subsidies decreased shipyard costs in China by between 13% and 20% between 2006 and 2012. These policy interventions have led to substantial misallocation of global production with no significant consumer surplus gains. Japan, in particular, has lost market share.

Gérard Roland, David Yang, 05 August 2017

Studies have shown that there is strong inertia in culture because values and beliefs are formed through intergenerational transmission. Much less is known about how culture changes, and which aspects of the changes in values and beliefs are permanent or temporary. This column examines the effects of the Cultural Revolution in China on urban elites, and reveals that the lack of access to higher education affected people’s beliefs throughout their life. Also, while the ‘lost generation’ passed down their greater mistrust in the government to their children, their changed beliefs on the roles of effort versus luck were transmitted to a much lesser degree.

Jing Cai, Adam Szeidl, 02 August 2017

Thomas Piketty, Li Yang, Gabriel Zucman, 20 July 2017

Between 1978 and 2015, China moved being from a poor, underdeveloped country to the world’s leading emerging economy. But relatively little is known about how the distribution of income and wealth within the country changed over this period. This column presents the first systematic estimates of the level and structure of China’s national wealth since the beginning of the market reform process. The national wealth-income ratio increased from 350% in 1978 to 700% in 2015, driven mainly by the increase of private wealth.

Shang-Jin Wei, Xiaobo Zhang, 04 July 2017

Hidemichi Fujii, Shunsuke Managi, 16 June 2017

Patent applications are a good indicator of the nature of technological progress. This column compares trends in applications for artificial intelligence patents in Japan and the US. One finding is that the Japanese market appears to be less attractive for artificial intelligence technology application, perhaps due to its stricter regulations on the collection and use of data.

Robert Barro, 04 February 2016

Edward Glaeser, 21 June 2017

Daron Acemoğlu, David Autor, David Dorn, Gordon Hanson, Brendan Price, 28 September 2014

Axel Dreher, Andreas Fuchs, Roland Holder, Bradley Parks, Paul Raschky, Michael Tierney, 18 August 2015

David Autor, David Dorn, Gordon Hanson, Gary P. Pisano, Pian Shu, 20 March 2017

The discussion of the decline in US manufacturing during the 2016 presidential election campaign largely focused on job losses. This column examines the effects of Chinese import competition on another metric for the health of the US manufacturing sector – innovation.  Firms whose industries were exposed to a greater surge of Chinese import competition from 1991 to 2007 experienced a significant decline in their patent output as well as their R&D expenditures. While politicians’ ‘obsession’ with manufacturing is primarily due to job losses, an accompanying reduction in innovation may well affect economic growth in the longer term.

Ravi Kanbur, Yue Wang, Xiaobo Zhang, 15 March 2017

Sharply increasing inequality became an integral part of the narrative on Chinese development since the beginning of the reform process in 1978. Over the past decade, however, many studies have argued that inequality has been plateauing, or even declining. This column uses several datasets, including household surveys and regional-level government statistics, to show evidence of a mitigation of inequality in the early 21st century, and indeed, declining rates over recent years. Possible drivers of this turnaround are urbanisation, transfer and regulation regimes, and tightening rural labour markets.  

Pol Antràs, Teresa Fort, Felix Tintelnot, 12 March 2017

A growing body of economic research documents the potential negative effects of increased trade integration, often with a focus on increased Chinese import penetration. This column argues that some US firms benefit significantly from increased import opportunities as they lower their costs and expand. Protectionism in the form of higher domestic tariffs would decrease these domestic firms’ competitiveness both at home and abroad.