Understanding China’s Economic Transformation: Are there lessons here for the developing world?


Daniel W. Bromley & Yang Yao

Published: June 2006


Economic change is a process of continual adjustment to new circumstances. Economies are always in the process of becoming. Good economic policy entails pragmatic adjustment so that economic dystrophy is avoided. The experience of economic (institutional) reform in China since 1978 is drawn on—and explained—to illustrate the extent to which Deng’s reforms represent the pragmatist’s focus on the practical effects of purposeful actions. Economies rest on an evolving institutional foundation. Deng understood this and used it to bring China to the forefront of the world’s economic stage. Here is an account of how he managed that transition.



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