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Democracy & Technology Blog New Numbers for New China

China recently published data from its “first economic census,” and the findings, as rough as they must be in a nation so large and dynamic, are interesting and encouraging, though I can’t say I’m surprised:
1) China’s economy in 2004 was almost 17 percent larger than previously thought, larger, in fact, than Italy’s, putting China in fifth place globally. Growth over the last 10 years was more like 10.5 percent than the previous estimate of 9.5 percent;
2) the service sector is far larger than previously thought, accounting for almost 41 percent of the economy, up from the previous estimate of 32 percent;
3) manufacturing accounts for 46.2 percent of the economy and agriculture for 13.1 percent, both lower than thought; and
4) 93 percent of the additional, previously “unknown” output came from the private sector.
Li Deshui, head statistician and chief of the project, acknowledged large-scale economic data cannot be exact and that some enterprises were found to have been exaggerating numbers, but he believes the new numbers are much better than the old ones.
-Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson is a Senior Fellow at Seattle's Discovery Institute, where he researches technology and economics and contributes to the Disco-Tech blog. He is currently writing a book on the abundance of the world economy, focusing on the Chinese boom and developing a new concept linking economics and information theory. Swanson writes frequently for the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal on topics ranging from broadband communications to monetary policy.