The Rise of Robots in China

Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 33, Number 2, Spring 2019, Pages 71–88

21st Century China Center Research Paper No. 2019-02

19 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2019

See all articles by Hong Cheng

Hong Cheng

Wuhan University

Ruixue Jia

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - 21st Century China Center

Dandan Li

Stanford University

Hongbin Li

Stanford University

Date Written: June 1, 2019

Abstract

China is the world's largest user of industrial robots. In 2016, sales of industrial robots in China reached 87,000 units, accounting for around 30 percent of the global market. To put this number in perspective, robot sales in all of Europe and the Americas in 2016 reached 97,300 units (according to data from the International Federation of Robotics). Between 2005 and 2016, the operational stock of industrial robots in China increased at an annual average rate of 38 percent. In this paper, we describe the adoption of robots by China's manufacturers using both aggregate industry-level and firm-level data, and we provide possible explanations from both the supply and demand sides for why robot use has risen so quickly in China. A key contribution of this paper is that we have collected some of the world's first data on firms' robot adoption behaviors with our China Employer-Employee Survey (CEES), which contains the first firm-level data that is representative of the entire Chinese manufacturing sector.

JEL Classification: D24, M11, O14

Suggested Citation

Cheng, Hong and Jia, Ruixue and Li, Dandan and Li, Hongbin, The Rise of Robots in China (June 1, 2019). Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 33, Number 2, Spring 2019, Pages 71–88 , 21st Century China Center Research Paper No. 2019-02 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3415648

Hong Cheng

Wuhan University ( email )

Wuhan
China

Ruixue Jia (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - 21st Century China Center ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive #0519
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

Dandan Li

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Hongbin Li

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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