In the late 1990s, China’s industrial sector was dominated by state-owned firms. We document how this changed after 1998. More than 80 percent of the state-owned firms in 1998 were shut down or privatized by 2007. Among firms we classify as state-controlled in 2007, many were restructured and registered as private firms with a controlling share held by a state-owned conglomerate or were new firms established after 1998. In 2007, almost half of the state-controlled firms were registered as private firms, and about 40 percent were new firms established after 1998. The privatization and convergence in labor productivity decelerated after 2007, but the establishment of new state-owned firms continued at roughly the same rate. When we interpret these facts through the lens of an equilibrium model of heterogeneous firms, we find that the transformation of firms that remained under state control and the creation of new state-controlled firms together account for 21 percent of China’s growth from 1998 to 2007 and 18 percent of its growth from 2007 to 2012. However, the exit and privatization of state-owned firms had a negligible effect on aggregate growth.


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pp. 295-366
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