Why China will not fall into the middle income trap

Here’s Tyler Cowen:

Does China hitting the wall reflect a deeper reality about emerging economy growth? 

It’s easy enough to say the Chinese economy is slowing down and that is creating problems for some other countries around the world.  Never settle for such a comfortable understanding!  Might there be deeper ways to think about the problem?

I am not endorsing any of the following speculative hypotheses, rather they are attempts to imbed the Chinese slowdown into what is possibly a broader framework.  Here are a few possibilities:

1. We’ve been realizing that autocratic government isn’t as effective as we had thought.

2. We’ve been realizing that virtually all of the world’s emerging economies will be hit by “premature deindustrialization,” China included.  China will produce more manufactured goods, but because of automation this will never build a fully-sized middle class in China.  And historically service sector jobs have never had the same kind of oomph at lifting a nation over various development hurdles.  The same limitations may apply to a variety of other countries.


Tyler seems to imply that it is clear that China has hit a wall.  But the consensus forecast for China is 6.9% growth this year, and 6.7% next year.  My forecast is 6%.

China’s development so far has looked a lot like the other East Asian tigers, and almost nothing like the places that did hit a wall (Russia, Turkey, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa, etc.)  The East Asian tigers have now become fully developed economies.

I don’t think anyone believes the Chinese recession (if it occurs) will be anywhere near as bad as South Korea’s 1998 recession (or even 1980)—and yet Korea went on to become a fully developed nation in just another 15 years!  (China will obviously take a bit longer.)

As far as premature industrialization, it hasn’t hit Taiwan or South Korea.  Hong Kong got rich despite deindustrialization. Of course China’s much bigger, but it has shown no sign of being unable to provide a middle class lifestyle for tens of millions of Han people in coastal areas, and I see no reason to believe the same can’t be done for hundreds of millions more Han people in both the coastal areas and the interior (and probably minorities as well.)  It’s really up to the Chinese government; will they do the necessary reforms?  I think the answer is “probably yes.”  Tyler seems to suggest that services are less essential that goods in the development process.  Actually, China can clearly provide it’s citizens with the housing and appliances necessary for a middle class lifestyle, that’s not even in doubt–the real question is the service sector, can they make it more efficient?

Test question:  How many countries that have cultures that are obsessed with education, saving, and hard work have failed so far?  (My guess would be China, Vietnam and North Korea, and I don’t expect any of those three to get “stuck”.  Which countries did I miss?)


On the positive side, I strongly agree with Tyler’s point #1.  I’ve always thought democracy leads to better economic outcomes than autocracy, and I believe China would be much better off today if it had been democratic since 1949. Unfortunately, because I believe Tyler will be wrong about China, it will become harder for me to make that argument.

I also agree with Tyler that it’s too easy to say emerging market problems are due to China.  In my view Brazil’s problems are due to Brazil.

PS.  Unless I’m mistaken this reform will make China’s data more volatile, and could substantially reduce reported Q3 growth.

China’s statistics bureau said on Wednesday it has changed the way quarterly gross domestic product data is calculated, a move it calls a step to adopt international standards and improve the accuracy of Chinese numbers.

.  .  .

Now, China is calculating GDP based on economic activity of each quarter to make the data “more accurate in measuring the seasonal economic activity and more sensitive in capturing information on short-term fluctuations”, the NBS said.

Previously, China’s quarterly GDP data, in terms of value and growth rates, was derived from cumulated figures rather than economic activity of that particular quarter, the bureau said.

The new methodology – in line with that of major developed countries – will pave the way for China to adopt the International Monetary Fund’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) in calculating GDP, it said.

The bureau, which has revised some historical quarterly GDP figures for 2014 and prior years retrospectively, said it will publish third-quarter GDP data, due out on Oct. 19, based on the new methodology.

I never knew they used cumulated figures—no wonder the changes were so gradual.



46 Responses to “Why China will not fall into the middle income trap”

  1. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    9. September 2015 at 13:10

    Turkey hit a wall? When? It only began catching up in the 21st century. And Indonesia hasn’t hit a wall, yet.

    So that was what that funky Chinese GDP fred chart in the comments was about.

    Vietnam is only as rich as and is only growing as fast as India. I think Vietnam would be better under democracy.

    Democracy is no panacea- China may have performed better under it in the 1950s and 1960s, but if it was a Moldova-style weak state like the first Republic, it would have been almost as bad as the Communists.

  2. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    9. September 2015 at 13:48

    It sounds a bit like China is using a bad patch to take the opportunity to account for “restructuring charges”. Done properly, and not habitually, it sounds legit.

  3. Gravatar of Chuck Chuck
    9. September 2015 at 14:05

    The autocracy thing seems to be a bit of a strawman. Which economists have argued that autocracies work better? The main argument has been economic intervention vs non-intervention. Autocracies or democracies can do either.

    Also, what does manufacturing have to do with the middle class?

  4. Gravatar of LC LC
    9. September 2015 at 16:24


    On your test question, do you consider India a failed state?

    Of the 3 states you named, the thing they have in common (besides the traits you named) is autocratic government. Whether China will transition to a democratic state smoothly is an open question. (BTW, I agree with your assessment, but with China, as history has shown, progress is anything but smooth and predictable.)

    Finally, something related to Tyelr’s point #1: as I am finishing Richard Bernstein’s book (China, 1945), I am grappling with a harder question: Should America have intervened to defeat the Chinese Communists in late 1940s? The conventional wisdom seems to be Truman made the right choice, but is conventional wisdom correct? If the view point is one human life is worth as much as another (or even that one American life is worth 30 Chinese lives, based on per capita GDP estimates for 1949), would an American intervention have ultimately saved many more lives? How would that calculus influence American decisions today regarding something like the ISIS? (The Communists were like ISIS of their time).

  5. Gravatar of benjamin cole benjamin cole
    9. September 2015 at 16:37

    I think Indians revere family, hark work and education…but they seem to struggle economically. Americans honor money and seem to prosper, until lately. The French honor the good life and seem to do well, until lately. Japan had a good and strong culture 1992–2012 and their economy stagnated.

    Keep one eye on the central banks.

  6. Gravatar of Giovanni Giovanni
    9. September 2015 at 17:03

    Brazil’s problems are due to Brazil. That’s obvious for anyone, however all brazilian commentators attribute all brazilian economic situations to foreign events.

  7. Gravatar of Robert Robert
    9. September 2015 at 17:40

    To my mind, there is scant evidence for the middle income trap. Some countries are catching up to the world’s most productive, some not, regardless of where their relative income levels began. As you alluded to, it largely depends on savings rates, capitalist systems, political stability, and successful growth in manufacturing.

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. September 2015 at 18:14

    E. Harding. Agree that it’s debatable which countries have hit a wall. Brazil is an obvious case of one that has. Ditto for South Africa.

    Vietnam (and N. Korea) are both very poor, but have cultures that makes me think they’d grow very fast with good public policies. (BTW, I didn’t mean to suggest other cultures can’t grow, I just think that a North Korea could grow faster than a place like Afghanistan, even with the same economic system.)

    Chuck, I don’t know about economists, but I often see pundits claim that “China shows a dictator can deliver faster growth.”

    LC, Yes, but “history” isn’t of much value in evaluating East Asian tiger economies. The other 4 had no “history” of being democratic, or developed countries. Now two are democratic, and HK would be if allowed to. Obviously China may fail, and may get stuck in a middle income level, and may not develop democracy. But I think that is really, really unlikely. As a country, China is totally unlike some place like Brazil. I can sort of imagine people in Brazil accepting there current status as middle income as being some sort of fate. “What can you do?” China’s got a very, very ambitious culture. They won’t settle for Brazilian level GDP/person. If one government screws up, another “Deng” will eventually come along.

    Ben, Indian culture is an interesting case, and one I’m not qualified to comment one. I sort of thought it contained many cultures (Muslim, Dalit, Brahmin, Jain, Sikh, etc.). Why is their saving rate so much lower than China? I am on record predicting it will have the world’s largest GDP in 100 years, however.

    Robert, I mostly agree with that.

  9. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    9. September 2015 at 22:30

    How many countries that have cultures that are obsessed with education, saving, and hard work have failed so far?

    Nearly all the ones that didn’t have constitutions rewritten by the United States got stuck at middle incomes. Institutions dominate.

    Unfortunately China still has enormous institutional problems relating to trust, perhaps best exemplified by the practice of running over people twice to make sure they’re dead, because it’s cheaper than just injuring them. Fortunately, there are powerful new institutions gathering strength but it’s not yet clear to what extent the government will allow them.

    I would like to see China’s 1.3 billion people prosper, but we’re fast approaching the point where the things that promote living standards will be the same things that threaten the ChiCom aristocrats’ hold on power. I do not get any sense whatsoever that Xi Jinping is ready to relinquish control to the people, perhaps the next leader will be different.

  10. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    10. September 2015 at 04:38

    IHS Automotive, to my knowledge, is just a business-information outfit without an axe to grind.

    From them:

    HS Automotive has reduced its full year 2015 light vehicle sales forecast for China to 23.4 million units, reflecting a growth rate over 2014 of just 1.4 percent, compared with its previous forecast of 4.4 percent year-over-year growth.

    IHS analysts are also looking ahead to 2016 and still expect some growth in light vehicle sales next year, though just about 3 percent, to 24.2 million units.


    Okay, light vehicles do not an economy make, but it seems like China may hit slow growth, not recession, in the next two years.

    Even slow growth may be too pessimistic, as there are signals that the People’s Bank of China is pulling out some bigger artillery.

    I imagine there are some internal CCP conflicts between members who have business debts in US dollars and others tied to domestic industries. It seems patently obvious that China should print lots of yuan, boost the economy and BTW cheapen the yuan…my guess is the PBoC growthers will prevail….

  11. Gravatar of Jean Jean
    10. September 2015 at 06:30

    The elephant in the room here that everyone is ignoring is the eurozone – China’s biggest external market. Exports to the eurozone are down, by a lot, and the debt to GDP ratios in the various stricken countries are worsening. Until we learn that the Europeans are eliminating tier one and tier two capital, the eurozone won’t improve, unfortunately for China and all the emerging economies who used to export to China.

  12. Gravatar of cbu cbu
    10. September 2015 at 07:56

    TallDave, you sounded like a Christian extremist. Running over people twice is not a Chinese culture thing. It’s an individual thing that can happen in any culture. Chinese will not be saved by Christianity, and they do not need to be saved by Christianity.

  13. Gravatar of David de los Ángeles Buendía David de los Ángeles Buendía
    10. September 2015 at 08:34

    Dr. Sumner,

    In the 1980’s there were several housing bubbles in different locations. However interest rates were orders of magnitude higher than today. In October of 1981 30 year mortgages had an interest rate of 18.45% and today it is 4.05%[1] yet housing starts in October 1981 was 873,000 and in July of 2015[2] the number of housing starts were 1,203,000.

    So the Federal Reserve Bank and other government regulatory bodies have little ability to prevent housing bubbles, there are no “anti-bubble” policies[3].

    [1] http://bit.ly/1ztBuK2

    [2] http://bit.ly/1NhVZkx

    [3] http://bit.ly/Y1Y9hc

  14. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    10. September 2015 at 08:42

    cbu — Hit-to-kill is not a common problem in most cultures. The Christian argument for the sanctity of individual human life stands diametrically opposed to the communist argument for the virtual worthlessness of individual human life.

  15. Gravatar of Assorted Thursday links Assorted Thursday links
    10. September 2015 at 09:21

    […] Further Scott Sumner bullishness on China.  And Thomas Piketty on immigration to […]

  16. Gravatar of collin collin
    10. September 2015 at 09:25

    One item I surprised about with China is either pundits are relative Bull market and heavy Bear market instead of something in between, like ~4% growth rate for 2016. China still appears to be functional enough to do mostly right things but there are a lot storm clouds in the economy. I do believe the main growth in 2015 has come from the weird PPI index in deflation (from lower commodity prices & increased productivity) versus increasing CPI (from all opinion is from food, especially pork, prices) So the producer surplus is being put into increased wages and workers and this reality appears to be ending.

    So it appears China has two choices: Keep the higher devaluation but create a small finanical crisis (say US S&L 1990 recession) or have devaluation which creates higher inflation and employment. (say US 1969 – 1970 recession.)

  17. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    10. September 2015 at 09:51

    Talldave, Running over people twice is part of Chinese culture? How would you describe American culture? Do bad things ever happen in America? Do Americans ever shoot each other?

    David, I agree that central banks are not good at controlling bubbles, and indeed probably can’t really stop them.

  18. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    10. September 2015 at 10:47

    Scott — not sure you read the link. Here’s another:

    Geoffrey Sant, a professor at Fordham Law School and board member of the New York Chinese Cultural Center, writes in Slate that this type killing is a “fairly common” occurrence in China…Sant notes that “judges, police and media” will support bizarre claims made by the drivers who hit their victims repeatedly afterwards.

    If you ask Americans if shootings are a serious problem, most would say yes. The difference is you don’t get off with a fine.

  19. Gravatar of Thiago Ribeiro Thiago Ribeiro
    10. September 2015 at 10:53

    You are skeptical of development of non-Han Chinese areas? Why? Geography, culture or government?
    “In my view Brazil’s problems are due to Brazil.”
    Evidently, but the Chinese boom desguised the problems, the end of the boom will bring additional pain.
    “… will be anywhere near as bad as South Korea’s 1998 recession (or even 1980)””and yet Korea went on to become a fully developed nation in just another 15 years! (China will obviously take a bit longer.)”
    South Korea became a fully developed nation in 201(1998+15)?

  20. Gravatar of Thiago Ribeiro Thiago Ribeiro
    10. September 2015 at 10:54

    I mean, 2013 ?

  21. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    10. September 2015 at 12:43

    @ben cole
    “I think Indians revere family, hark work and education…but they seem to struggle economically.”

    -In theory.


    In practice, Serbs and Filipinos (not known for their hard work ethic) seem to do a better job of staffing call centers than Indians. Remember, India is not a country of Indian-Americans.

  22. Gravatar of cbu cbu
    10. September 2015 at 13:01

    TallDave, overall, the U.S. has a higher rate of intentional homicide than China. Many states of the U.S. have a much higher rate of intentional homicide than that in China – so much for your Christianity vs Communism theory, or maybe I should start a Buddhism vs Christianity argument?

  23. Gravatar of Mike in Shenzhen Mike in Shenzhen
    10. September 2015 at 16:17

    Scott, are there many historical examples of low trust societies making it past the middle income trap?

    Yes, Chinese value education. Mainly it is viewed here as an important stepping stone towards becoming a rentier. I like to think of China as one big giant Sicily, only a Sicily that values education and barely tolerates religion.

  24. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    10. September 2015 at 20:20

    There’s sort of a cottage industry of “Weird China” stories in the media. People seem to enjoy reading sensational stories from China and then imagining that they’re indicative of everyone and everywhere in China, all of the time.

    The fact that there would be homicidal drivers, and a high absolute number of homicidal drivers, in a country as populous as China would not be that unusual. These stories say that they’re “fairly common” and highlight some sensational incidents without indicating how common they are, and it’s not clear that we can even ascertain how common they are.

    We have and have always had hit and run accidents where drivers leave injured, struck pedestrians to certain death and flee the scene in order to avoid the consequences.

  25. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    11. September 2015 at 00:12

    cbu — Tens of millions died in the Great Leap Forward alone.

    Also, the whole problem is that these are are not considered homicides in China.

  26. Gravatar of Thiago Ribeiro Thiago Ribeiro
    11. September 2015 at 03:08

    “That’s obvious for anyone, however all brazilian commentators attribute all brazilian economic situations to foreign events.”
    Is it why Rousseff’s government is being so criticized by the Press? No one,except a few zealots, is saying that China is the whole problem, but evidently the Chinese Boom helped Brazil to weather the Great Recession and fight the effects of many bad choices–some of them very old– until now. So, yes, China’s economy is the immediate cause of the timing of this particular crisis– Brazil’s government was no better a few years ago when, despite not-great growth, it was possible to mix very low unemployment, wage growth, big profits and growing social expenses and good credit rating.

  27. Gravatar of Thiago Ribeiro Thiago Ribeiro
    11. September 2015 at 03:25

    “Also, the whole problem is that these are are not considered homicides in China.”
    If they were not considered homicide, everyone would try in such a situation would take the easy way out–yet the specialist you quoted is adamant that some people in this circumstances do that (and how many people in the West kill people who become a problem–ex-lovers, business partners, relatives,etc., I can mention lots and lots of such well-known cases in the USA alone). Again, compare the homicides statistics.
    Anyway, we are still waiting the “powerful institutions” work their magic in Latin America’s murder number. Any day now…

  28. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    11. September 2015 at 06:51

    Talldave, Don’t believe everything you read about China. Lawmakers are opposed to this but the media is in favor? I don’t think so (and I often read the Chinese media.)

    Thiago, Yes, somewhere around 2013, depending on how you define the term. it reached the level of Western European nations that are usually considered developed.

    I think the non-Han areas will also become developed, I’m just a bit less confident. Think about American Indian reservations, if you wonder why I have some concern in that area. However on balance I think Chinese minorities are quite different from native Americans, and will do better in the long run.

    Mike, No there aren’t, but the few successes that do exist are very relevant, wouldn’t you say? (Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, etc.) What do they have in common with mainland China? Korea was considered a low trust society until it developed, and then suddenly people started considering it high trust (according to Fukuyama)

    Bob, I agree. I once did a post entitled “We are the freakshow” pointing out all the weird things about America that foreigners would view as strange. The media really creates a distorted impression of China (and probably most other countries as well.) Whenever I talk to people about Singapore, they’ll mention the $500 fine for littering, as if that fact somehow defines the entire country. But when you actually visit Singapore you don’t even notice those oddities. When I visit China I notice the air pollution for a day or two, and then forget about it.

    China’s about as large as the entire western world (North and South America, Australia, Western Europe.) And it’s developing. So of course you can find appalling things here and there. You can find weird things in Bolivia or Bulgaria.

  29. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    11. September 2015 at 07:14

    Scott — The article said lawmakers were in favor, but enforcement was lax, which sounds believable, though I will agree it is quite possible Sant is exaggerating the problem. Classic socialist numbers games, we see this with infant mortality as well.

    I really just offer that example to show China has some incentive problems, I think we can all agree that those are some perverse incentives!

    At any rate I certainly agree moving away from cumulated numbers is a good step forward, although it’s already hard to compare prior years and this will further cloud the uncertainty around China’s growth numbers.

  30. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    11. September 2015 at 07:24

    Korea was considered a low trust society until it developed, and then suddenly people started considering it high trust (according to Fukuyama)

    Note this happened over the same period Koreans chose to convert to Christianity, rising from 2% in 1945 to 30% now. And though the causation probably works both ways, China’s 7% annual growth in Christians is cause for optimism in either case — and by 2025 or so, China may actually have the world’s largest Christian population.

  31. Gravatar of Floccina Floccina
    11. September 2015 at 08:22

    How many countries that have cultures that are obsessed with education, saving, and hard work have failed so far?

    How does a culture obsessed with education, saving, and hard work fall into communism???

    How does a communism produce results so bad in a culture obsessed with education, saving, and hard work???

    I think North Korea’s problems are not only due to the regime’s bad planning and stealing but also that even Koreans will slack under communism.

    Strange world we live in.

  32. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    11. September 2015 at 09:33

    What exactly the US was up to with China in the Truman years is a matter of some debate. It was the perspective of Gordon Tullock & Freda Utley that we sabotaged the Nationalists and helped Mao take over.

  33. Gravatar of cbu cbu
    11. September 2015 at 12:57

    TallDave, Ireland, which has had a strong Christian/Catholic society, once had a famine that caused the death of 10% of its population.

  34. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    11. September 2015 at 21:02

    Thiago Ribeiro — Incentives matter. Not everyone is willing to commit murder, but it is public record that these incidents were not classified as homicides. Did you read the article?

    For perspective, there were 15,000 murders in the United States last year. Estimates for the Cultural Revolution alone are in the tens of millions. Orders of magnitude.

    In South America, deliberately killing someone with your car is generally treated as murder unless you’re a drug kingpin or a Chavista. Counterfactuals are difficult but it’s extremely likely violence there would be worse without the Catholic Church, though perhaps they’d benefit from evangelical inroads.

  35. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    11. September 2015 at 21:09

    cbu — Yes, there were many famines in the 1800s. See Rudy Rummel’s work on this question — nearly all twentieth century “famines” were clearly democides. Most estimates are that millions of Chinese were tortured to death during the Great Leap Forward.

  36. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    11. September 2015 at 21:49

    TGGP — Not just Tullock. Look at what Marshall did — securing ceasefires that were tactically valuable to the Communists, demanding a coalition government include the Communists, slapping an arms embargo on the Nationalists while the Communists received a steady stream of military supplies from the Soviets… Truman tried to claim after China was lost that his aim was to negotiate a peaceful resolution, but that level of naivete would be hard to credit even in Barack Obama.

    Letting a motley group of Communist lunatics take over China was arguably the greatest tragedy in human history.

  37. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    12. September 2015 at 05:32

    Talldave, You said:

    “I really just offer that example to show China has . . . ”

    OK, when you offer “examples” for a country of 1.4 billion people they have zero value. Full stop.

    It would be like me pointing to the “example” that retail sales in China are now growing at double digit rates to prove that real GDP is growing at double digit rates.

    Floccina, You said:

    “How does a communism produce results so bad in a culture obsessed with education, saving, and hard work???”

    It just shows how incredibly bad communism is.

  38. Gravatar of cbu cbu
    12. September 2015 at 08:33

    TallDave, the British Empire badly managed affairs during the Great Irish Famine and several famines in India. These famines in 19th century also had a democide component in it.

  39. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    12. September 2015 at 11:31

    Scott — If the “example” is one that the government controlling 1.4 billion perpetuates through incentives, that certainly matters. China could choose not to reward “hit to kill,” China cannot choose to grow retail sales at double digits.

    cbu — Again, 1800s, ag output was much lower, there were famines everywhere, even in areas that were well-managed and not torturing people to death or abolishing private property.

  40. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    12. September 2015 at 11:56

    See, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnish_famine_of_1866%E2%80%9368 Hardly ever talked about outside of Finland, happened after U.S. Civil War, killed 20% of Finland.

    Democide was the primary reason 30 to 45 million Chinese starved to death between 1958 and 1961, it almost certainly would not have happened under the Nationalists.

    The Cultural Revolution was explicitly anti-religious, much of the country’s religious heritage was recklessly torched. Would they have been better off preserving those (yes, non-Christian!) institutions? Almost certainly. Today a moral void exists and Christianity is rapidly filling that void.

    Scott — I should add, I do think China will mount a meaningful response to this problem soon, given it’s increasing coverage in the media, similar to what Taiwan has reportedly done, since doing so doesn’t really threaten any strongly-held interests and helps maintain their legitimacy. They’re certainly not the Chinese government of the 1960s or even (we can hope) of 1989.

    Like the jailing of journalists (which does threaten them) it’s something by which to measure the state of things.

  41. Gravatar of Thiago Ribeiro Thiago Ribeiro
    12. September 2015 at 20:54

    “Counterfactuals are difficult but it’s extremely likely violence there would be worse without the Catholic Church, though perhaps they’d benefit from evangelical inroads.”
    Well, as of now, it is much, much worse than China’s (maybe it is something in the water). It is funny how those Chinese monsters can be completely devoid of moral compass (living in a moral void) and yet insist in killing their neighbours much less frequently than most Christian peoples do. It is almost like they are human.

  42. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. September 2015 at 05:10

    Talldave, I’ve done lots of posts mentioning the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, so you aren’t telling me anything I don’t know. That has no bearing on my claims about China’s economy today.

    Since 1980, I’ve known many people with your views on China, and they’ve tended to be spectacularly wrong in their predictions. Always latching onto bad news that they were convinced showed the bubble would soon pop.

  43. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    14. September 2015 at 07:31

    Scott — A country that commonly treats killing people as a traffic offense has institutional challenges to overcome.

    My view is that China has done a wonderful job of lifting 1.3 billion people out of grinding poverty, but the ChiComs are not remotely the equivalent of an elected OECD government.

    If we want Chinese people to have better lives, we will not promote that goal by minimizing their plight.

  44. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    14. September 2015 at 07:33

    Thiago Ribeiro — Again, millions versus thousands. Not even close.

  45. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    14. September 2015 at 07:48

    Thiago Ribeiro “” You’re confusing a rate with a quantity. Other factors will influence the murder rate, so if (say) adding 10% Christianity reduces murder rate by 5%, a country could obviously still have high rates of murder.

    Also, if you want to cherrypick recent numbers, there are also many countries with large Christian presence that have very low reported recent homicide rates, despite including vehicular homicides… such as South Korea.

    Seems fairly obvious that a religion that frowns on murder would reduce the murder rate, especially relative to a secular system responsible for tens of millions of deaths.

  46. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    14. September 2015 at 11:41

    BTW that retail sales number is not looking a little suspicious:


    “To examine this closer, I downloaded data from the report covering the 50 and 100 largest retail enterprises in China with sales broken out by category. Looking at the 50 largest retail enterprises in a year over year basis, except for jewelry, all other categories are negative. Looking at the 100 largest, jewelry is still the largest gainer at 8.7% with food registering a 4.9% gain. Total retail sales among the largest 100 registered a total gain of 1.5% year over year. Most interestingly about the top 100 year over year retail sales, there is not one category that reaches the 10.8% claimed by the NBSC.”

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