The Beijing-based China Economy Research Institute, a think-tank of China Economic Weekly under People’s Daily News Group, recently published the “2011 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Quality Rankings.” The rankings have been published annually since 2009, so the current 2011 report is the third of its kind. The 2011 rankings lists the Chinese mainland’s 31 provincial-level regions based on their per capita GDP quality, or residents’ income happiness index (the ratio between per capita disposable income and per capita GDP, calculated as of Feb 22, 2012).
The website China.org.cn, an authorized news portal site established by the Chinese government, reports on the fact that “statistics show that regions with a greater GDP aggregate were not necessarily ranked high in GDP quality. Instead, some of them even came in near the bottom. In 2011, the top five regions with the highest GDP were Guangdong at 5.3 trillion yuan (US$820.59 billion), Jiangsu at 4.86 trillion yuan (US$752.46 billion), Shandong at 4.54 trillion yuan (US$702.92 billion), Zhejiang at 3.2 trillion yuan (US$495.45 billion) and Henan at 2.7 trillion yuan (US$418.03 billion). However, in terms of GDP quality, Guangdong came in third, Jiangsu 21st, Shandong 25th, Zhejiang fourth, and Henan 24th. Most notably, Guizhou Province, a mountainous region in southwestern China, took the fifth spot in 2011 though its GDP of 0.56 trillion yuan (US$86.7 billion) was ranked only 26th near the bottom.”
These findings show that, in Chinese provinces, the quality of GDP does not correlate with GDP ‘quantity‘. This is an issue that China’s economic experts have started to highlight in recent years. As China.org.cn puts it: “In recent years, China’s economic experts have pointed out that GDP should not be worshipped blindly. It’s more vital to consider its contributions to the improvement to people’s income, livelihood and sense of happiness.”