Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 March 2011
For nearly two decades, study of the Chinese economy involved constructing pictures of broad macro trends from extremely limited data painstakingly obtained. Given the quantity and quality of data available, a majority of analysts came surprisingly close to the mark in explaining what happened. A few economists attempted to deny that any economic progress had occurred, while there were others who painted a picture approaching Utopia, but these were always in the minority. When China began to open up in the late 1970s and data were once again systematically published, there were some surprises, but much of that written before the opening remained valid. If economists did a reasonably good job of explaining what happened, however, they did much less well explaining why.