Assessing China’s quest for innovation

What potential bottlenecks might be hindering the transformation of China’s innovation efforts into productivity growth?

Publishing date
19 July 2023

The Chinese economy is at a crossroads. The investment-driven growth model, which the government had relied on for the last four decades, is running out of steam. Fiscal deficits are widening and public debt is rising. Furthermore, population aging is becoming more visible and the pandemic had some scarring effects which have taken a toll both on consumer and business confidence. 

The very rapid rise in wages since the global financial crisis is pushing China to get ahead in its production capabilities so it will be productive enough to continue to raise wages and avoid the middle-income trap. Pressure on the economy is further intensified by the recent increase in geopolitical tensions and fears of decoupling between the US and China. 

As the Chinese economy continues to decelerate, the central government is investing heavily in innovation, doubling down on research and development (R&D) spending and STEM-oriented human capital.

In this episode of The Sound of Economics, Giuseppe Porcaro invites Alicia García-Herrero and Robin Schindowski to discuss the challenges China faces, including three potential bottlenecks that might be hindering the translation of China’s innovation efforts into productivity growth, with a specific focus on whether Chinese growth can defy gravity. 

Relevant publication

Schindowski, R. and A. Garcia-Herrero (2023) ‘China’s quest for innovation: progress and bottlenecks', Working Paper 08/2023, Bruegel

Garcia-Herrero, A. (2023) ‘Can Chinese growth defy gravity?’ Policy Brief 14/2023, Bruegel

This episode is part of the ZhōngHuá Mundus series of The Sound of Economics.

ZhōngHuá Mundus is a newsletter by Bruegel, bringing you monthly analysis of China in the world, as seen from Europe.

Click to read all past editions of ZhōngHuá Mundus

Sign up for the newsletter

This is an output of China Horizons, Bruegel's contribution in the project Dealing with a resurgent China (DWARC). This project has received funding from the European Union’s HORIZON Research and Innovation Actions under grant agreement No. 101061700.

EU funded project disclaimer

Related content