Since the 1998 “wind of falsification and embellishment,” Chinese official statistics on gross domestic product (GDP) have repeatedly come under scrutiny. This paper evaluates the quality of China's GDP statistics in four stages. First, it reviews past and ongoing suspicions of the quality of GDP data and examines the evidence. Second, it documents the institutional framework for data compilation and concludes on the implications for data quality. Third, it asks how the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics could possibly go about credibly falsifying GDP data without being found out. Fourth, it examines if the first- and second-digit distributions of official GDP data conform to established data regularities (Benford's Law). The findings are that the supposed evidence for GDP data falsification is not compelling, that the National Bureau of Statistics has much institutional scope for falsifying GDP data, and that certain manipulations of nominal and real data would be virtually undetectable. Official GDP data, however, exhibit few statistical anomalies (conform to Benford's Law) and the National Bureau of Statistics thus either makes no significant use of its scope to falsify data, or is aware of statistical data regularities when it falsifies data.
The Internet has dramatically changed the way we conduct business and our daily lives by provided us with unprecedented services and conveniences. However, contrary to such accomplishments, productivity in industrialized countries is now experiences an apparent decline. This has raised the question of a possible productivity paradox in the digital economy. The limitation of GDP statistics in measuring the advancement of the digital economy has thus become an important subject. This paper analyzed the structural sources of this problem. Utilizing the results of empirical analyses of national, industrial, and individual behavior in the digital economy, solutions to these critical issues were investigated. Based on the two-faced nature of information and communication technology (ICT) and the fact that people's preferences extend beyond economic value, the concept of uncaptured GDP was postulated and spinoff dynamism to a new co-evolution among advancement of the Internet, increasing dependence on uncaptured GDP, and a shift in people's preferences was reviewed. This provided new insight and suggested a transformative direction to address the limitation of using GDP statistics in the digital economy.
► We evaluate the dynamics of GDP growth for China against alternative indicators. ► Suggested episodes of statistical inconsistencies are tested by factor analysis. ► The importance of factors is studied, advancing the understanding of growth in China. ► The indicator data match the GDP dynamics well and discrepancies are very short. We use factor analysis to summarize information from various macroeconomic indicators, effectively producing coincident indicators for the Chinese economy. We compare the dynamics of the estimated factors with GDP, and compare our factors with other published indicators for the Chinese economy. The estimated factors and the published coincident indicators match the GDP dynamics well and discrepancies are very short. The largest discrepancies may correspond to shocks affecting the growth process.
In 2006, China's National Bureau of Statistics undertook a benchmark revision of national income and product accounts statistics based on the findings of the 2004 economic census. The benchmark revision covers primarily the years 1993-2004 with revised economy-wide and sectoral output values. The new data have three implications. First, despite all the hype only a few years ago about data falsification by local statistical authorities in China, the 2004 economic census results validate the provincial aggregate output values and invalidate the centre's national ones. Second, at the national level, economy-wide as well as sectoral nominal values were revised but real growth rates of some sectors remained unchanged. That is not plausible, and implies that at least the secondary sector real growth rates are erroneous. And finally, the benchmark revision raises questions about the quality and meaning of a large body of official statistics. Ultimately, it casts doubt on the professionalism and sincerity of China's statistical authority.
We use factor analysis to summarize information from various macroeconomic indicators, effectively producing coincident indicators for the Chinese economy. We compare the dynamics of the estimated factors with GDP, and compare our factors with other published indicators for the Chinese economy. The indicator data match the GDP dynamics well and discrepancies are very short. The periods of discrepancies seem to correspond to shocks affecting the growth process as neither autoregressive models for GDP itself nor various coincident indicators are able to forecast them satisfactorily. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT
This article examines the evolution of statistical data (in this case GDP) from their temporarily character to the final one. It has highlighted a number of inconsistencies or opposite evolutions which implies that the use of statistical data not definitive may lead to erroneous conclusions.
Nearly three-quarters of the growth in global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and cement production between 2010 and 2012 occurred in China(1,2). Yet estimates of Chinese emissions remain subject to large uncertainty; inventories of China's total fossil fuel carbon emissions in 2008 differ by 0.3 gigatonnes of carbon, or 15 per cent(1,3-5). The primary sources of this uncertainty are conflicting estimates of energy consumption and emission factors, the latter being uncertain because of very few actual measurements representative of the mix of Chinese fuels. Here we re-evaluate China's carbon emissions using updated and harmonized energy consumption and clinker production data and two new and comprehensive sets of measured emission factors for Chinese coal. We find that total energy consumption in China was 10 per cent higher in 2000-2012 than the value reported by China's national statistics(6), that emission factors for Chinese coal are on average 40 per cent lower than the default values recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(7), and that emissions from China's cement production are 45 per cent less than recent estimates(1,4). Altogether, our revised estimate of China's CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production is 2.49 gigatonnes of carbon (2 standard deviations = +/-7.3 per cent) in 2013, which is 14 per cent lower than the emissions reported by other prominent inventories(1,4,8). Over the full period 2000 to 2013, our revised estimates are 2.9 gigatonnes of carbon less than previous estimates of China's cumulative carbon emissions(1,4). Our findings suggest that overestimation of China's emissions in 2000-2013 may be larger than China's estimated total forest sink in 1990-2007 (2.66 gigatonnes of carbon)(9) or China's land carbon sink in 2000-2009 (2.6 gigatonnes of carbon)(10).