Lecture 16 gradual reform and opening

Lecture 16 gradual reform and opening - Lecture 17 How to...

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Lecture 17 How to understand China’s gradual reform to the market economy and opening to the world market after 1978? Last class, we used One-child policy as can case study to show the two major problems of a state-planned economy. First, no matter how competent the planners are, they cannot anticipate many important changes in future, for example, China’s opening to the world market after 1978 is perhaps the most important changes in the past 30 years, yet it was not included in missile scientists’ calculation of optimal population. Second, each individual in society is a person, an agent who has interest, emotion, desire, and plan for his/her life, not just a tool to be planned by the government. These should not be denied or ignored by the government. Even from a pure practical point of view, it is very difficult for a government to implement a policy which contradicts the motivation of the majority of its people, unless the government uses violence to impose unpopular policy. But for the critics of one-child policy, if we ask them, what would have happened to China if there were no mandatory one-child policy in 1980, it would be difficult for them to answer. It is almost impossible to know the effect of alterative policies, for example, suppose the Chinese government in 1980 did not impose the one-child policy in rural area, but to spend the same amount of money to implement this policy on improving the education of rural women. For example, the government provided money to help every girl in rural China to finish high school. But nobody can predict the impact on birth rates when rural women became more educated. This is one major difference between social science and natural science, it is very difficult to do controlled experiments in social science. And it is impossible to re-run history. So comparison is often used as a proxy to controlled experiment. For example, we compare China with India, we may know something about the possible consequence if China did not impose one-child policy in 1980, because India did not have such a strict population control. But the one-child policy is a very special policy making. The main reason is that the missile scientists who had played crucial role in making this policy did not benefit from this policy. They actually did not have much personal interests or stakes involved in policy making. And they were not bribed by any lobby group to advocate this policy. The making of social or economic policies has big impact on interest distribution. That means the same policy will affect the interest of different groups in different ways. We call this distributional effect of policy making. For example, if a government set high tariff duty on imported automobiles, domestic auto-producers would benefit while auto-consumers will not. This is the reason why interest concerns of different social groups will try to find ways to influence the process of policy-making. This is a basic relationship between policy-making and interest concern in society.
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This note was uploaded on 12/28/2010 for the course SOCIAL SCI SOSC119 taught by Professor Wenkaihe during the Fall '10 term at HKUST.

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Lecture 16 gradual reform and opening - Lecture 17 How to...

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