Das (Wasted) Kapital: Firm Ownership and Investment Efficiency in China

40 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2007

See all articles by Shang-Jin Wei

Shang-Jin Wei

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); International Monetary Fund (IMF); Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Date Written: January 2007

Abstract

Based on a survey that we designed and that covers a stratified random sample of 12,400 firms in 120 cities in China with firm-level accounting information for 2002-2004, this paper examines the presence of systematic distortions in capital allocation that result in uneven marginal returns to capital across firm ownership, regions, and sectors. It provides a systematic comparison of investment efficiency among wholly and partially state-owned, wholly and partially foreign owned, and domestic privately owned firms, conditioning on their sector, location, and size characteristics. It finds that even after a quarter-of-century of reforms, state-owned firms still have significantly lower returns to capital, on average, than domestic private or foreign-owned firms. Similarly, certain regions and sectors have consistently lower returns to capital than other regions and sectors. By our calculation, if China succeeds in allocating its capital more efficiently, it could reduce its investment intensity by 5 percent of GDP without sacrificing its economic growth (and hence deliver a greater improvement to its citizens' living standard).

Keywords: Capital, China, Financial systems, Investment, Industry, Resource allocation, Economic reforms

JEL Classification: O11, O16

Suggested Citation

Wei, Shang-Jin, Das (Wasted) Kapital: Firm Ownership and Investment Efficiency in China (January 2007). IMF Working Paper No. 07/9. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=959307

Shang-Jin Wei (Contact Author)

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States

Tsinghua University - School of Economics & Management

Beijing, 100084
China

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