17 March 2017

Economic Development Is Valuable Even In The Absence Of Full Liberty

Between 1995 and 2014 GDP per capita increased almost 400% in China and child mortality fell by 76%
From this Tweet by Max Roser.

China's current per capita GDP is just under $6,500 U.S. dollars.

For sake of comparison GDP per capita in the U.S. in 1995 was $38,678 in constant 2015 U.S. dollars, while it was $50,727 in 2014 in constant 2015 U.S. dollars. If it had increased 400% it would be about $154,712, which is more than three times as high as it is today.

Working in the other direction, GDP per capita would have to be $12,681 in constant 2015 U.S. dollars in 1995 for the U.S. to have experienced the same rate of economic growth as China and have its current GDP per capita. In 1947, on a constant 2015 U.S. dollar basis, U.S. GDP per capita was $13,437.

Basically, China has had as much economic growth on a percentage basis since 1995 as the U.S. has had since 1945. It had 70 years of U.S. percentage rate economic growth in 20 years.

The growth rates China has experienced in the last 20 years are roughly the same as the one's a hypothetical backward economy in an alternative universe in Charlie Stross's Empire Games book attempts to achieve by borrowing modern technology from our universe.

Of course, in both cases, the incredible economic growth is made possible only by borrowing technology wholesale and leapfrogging over intermediate technological phases, rather than innovating technological from scratch to improve productivity.

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