Date of Award


Document type


Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


First Advisor

Gerald A. Epstein

Second Advisor

Robert Pollin

Third Advisor

James Heintz

Subject Categories



This dissertation explores how economic institutions governing finance and investment have con- tributed to growth in reform-era China. Economic and political reforms greatly transformed China's prior centrally-planned economy. Although reforms incorporated elements of market institutions and private enterprise, China's state institutions exercising extensive authority over a wide range of eco- nomic affairs critically and fundamentally played a central role in transforming this economy from one of the world's poorest to the world's second largest in the span of one generation. I explain the emergence of a unique configuration of institutions supportive of industrial policy implemented by largely autonomous local government officials. In combination with state-directed bank credit, this local government industrial policy finance have played a significant and positive role in development of exports in China. Foreign direct investment, too, was positively and significantly associated with export development, though on a more geographically-limited basis. Though private entrepreneurs are often seen as dynamic engines of growth in China's reform-era economy, I show that the vast majority of entrepreneurs are low-skilled, low-productivity, and exhibit non-positive rates of capital accumulation. Most entrepreneurs would experience higher earnings were they not segmented into self-employment occupations by adverse socioeconomic conditions. Rather than engines of growth, China's entrepreneurs resemble more the vast numbers of informal sector self-employment prevalent in many developing countries.


Included in

Economics Commons