November 01, 2005

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Counting China's economists

China's economic system is described as a socialist market economy. In reality it is a muddle of capitalism and central planning, with murky statistics and transmission mechanisms and little clarity as to how the whole edifice functions. Who would be an economist in such an environment? Let this is the same country funding part of America's massive spending binge (along with Japan and the Middle East), becoming one of the world's biggest economies and with influence not just over its own 1.3 billion people but pretty much everyone on the planet through its influence in commodity markets, geopolitics, production and more.

Which means it's a worry when Professor Xue-liang Ding of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology says the mainland has at most five qualified economists, and that some of China's more famous economists wouldn't qualify in western universities' postgraduate programs. I cannot find the original article in the China Youth Daily but I look forward to a translation.

It doesn't look good for the dismal science. What if the rest of the world catches on? A small sample should prove the point:

USA - tens of thousands of economists, GDP growth rate 3.6%
Germany - tens of thousands of economists, GDP growth rate 0.6%
Japan - tens of thousands of economists, GDP growth rate 0.4%
China - 5 economists, GDP growth rate 9.4%

A regression analysis leads to only one conclusion - economists are bad for economic growth*.

* Don't start going on about causation vs. correlation. That's exactly why economists get a bad rap in the first place.

posted by Simon on 11.01.05 at 08:59 AM in the China economy category.


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in fact, there is certain truth in it.

economists mostly study equilibirum/static situations (it is easier).
growth is not static.

posted by: sun bin on 11.01.05 at 01:59 PM [permalink]

That's like saying doctors are bad for your health.

Wherever you see an office full of doctors - there are a bunch of sick people!

posted by: PJ on 11.02.05 at 05:50 AM [permalink]

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