Meet the Author: Linda Yueh

Five years after her book China’s Growth was published, economist Linda Yueh spoke at Leeds University Business School about what has changed over the last few years and what to expect in terms of China’s development in the coming decades.

The economist, author, and broadcaster attracted an audience from the University and the wider Leeds area to hear her speak at the Business Confucius Institute Meet the Author event on 2 May 2018.

Dr Linda Yueh is an economist at Oxford University and the London Business School. China’s Growth looks at all the evidence around China’s growth since the start of market reforms in 1979, and considers the kind of reforms that are needed for China to become prosperous in the coming decades.

Referring to the process of writing the book, Linda joked early in her talk; “I read thousands of economics articles so you don’t have to”, and in her lecture she masterfully combined her academic analysis of China’s economy with stories and pop culture references (including Back to the Future and Star Trek, in case you are wondering!) that made the talk engaging and accessible for a wider audience. Her extensive media experience, which includes a period as Chief Business Correspondent for BBC News, showed through.

Growth drivers

Linda discussed the drivers of growth and components of total factor productivity: human capital, re-allocative efficiency, and technology; and explained that while China has boosted efficiency a lot through structural change, it is possible that only 17% of growth so far has come from human capital and innovation.

As Linda predicted in China’s Growth, increasing innovation and becoming globally competitive have been a focus over the last five years, and continue to be important if China is to avoid the ‘middle income trap’ and actually become a high income country. Over the coming years, as China tries to rebalance towards a more sustainable set of growth drivers, the country will have to innovate a lot more.

Further reading: Will China ever get rich? by Linda Yueh for the South China Morning Post

This discussion of innovation continues a theme that has appeared in other recent Business Confucius Institute lectures from James Kynge and George Yip. Read the round of our last Meet the Author event with George Yip here.

“Having an interest in China is absolutely essential”

Linda closed her talk by saying that China has already lifted a fifth of humanity into a level of prosperity they have never had in the current era, but that growth accounting suggests the next stages in China’s growth are going to be challenging. She asserted that:

Understanding China’s economy will be the most important economic and business topic in the coming years

Audience interaction

Audience questions covered a range of topics including whether China can become rich with a one party state, the relationship of China with the US, and the quality of education and human capital in China. Many attendees picked up copies of Linda’s books from the Blackwell’s stall and took the opportunity to meet Linda and have their copy signed by the author.

View photos from the event on Flickr and Facebook.

Coming soon: Linda’s interview with final year Economics student Sam Coffey for Leeds Student TV.

Linda is currently working on a book about China in Africa. Save the date for our own China in Africa event here in Leeds on Wednesday 26 September 2018!