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Is Chinese Variety of Capitalism Really Unique?

11 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2011  

Vladimir Popov

Central Economics and Mathematics Institute (CEMI); New Economic School (NES)

Date Written: February 18, 2011


The formal comparison of similarities and differences of Chinese and Western economic models misses the most important point. The uniqueness of China is that it looks very much like a developed country today in terms of institutional capacity of the state, even though it is a developing country according to GDP per capita. Indeed, China should be compared with developing countries today or developed countries a hundred years ago, when their GDP was at the current Chinese level, and this comparison is very much in favour of China. Institutional capacity of the state, according to a narrow definition, is the ability of the government to enforce laws and regulations. While there are a lot of subjective indices (corruption, rule of law, government effectiveness, etc.) that are supposed to measure state institutional capacity, many researchers do not think they help to explain economic performance and instead consider them biased. The natural objective measures of state institutional capacity are the murder rate (noncompliance with the state’s monopoly on violence) and the shadow economy (non-compliance with the economic regulations). China is rather unique on both measures – one of the lowest indicators in the developing world comparable to developed countries.

Suggested Citation

Popov, Vladimir, Is Chinese Variety of Capitalism Really Unique? (February 18, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Vladimir Popov (Contact Author)

Central Economics and Mathematics Institute (CEMI) ( email )

Nakhimovsky Prospect 47
Moscow, 117418

New Economic School (NES) ( email )

47 Nakhimovsky Prospekt
Moscow, 117418

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