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A structuralist perspective on economic growth in China and India: anticipating the end game

Salvatore J. Babones (Department of Sociology and Social Policy, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 24 February 2012




The purpose of this paper is to examine a much‐overlooked aspect of the rise of China: when will it end? Obviously, the Chinese economy will not grow at an annual rate of 10 percent forever. At some point Chinese growth will stabilize. When is of vast importance for the political, economic, and ecological future of the world.


Data from the World Development Indicators database are used to benchmark the recent economic growth of China (and India) to the long‐term trajectory of Brazil. A structuralist approach derived from world‐systems analysis predicts that Chinese growth will stabilize once China reaches an equilibrium income level characteristic of the semiperiphery of the world‐economy.


Based on recent trends, the structuralist perspective suggests that China's extraordinary rate of economic growth will fall back to global norms after 2020. China is unlikely to reach US or EU levels of total national income before mid‐century.

Research limitations/implications

The research presented here is highly speculative. The data are of very poor quality and the assumptions are quite heroic. That said, the China 2020 prediction is relatively robust to variations in data and assumptions.

Social implications

The rise of China is unlikely to have much impact on the structure of the modern world economy or the continuation of US hegemony for the foreseeable future, and its impact on greenhouse gas emissions may be less than anticipated.


This study will hopefully open a debate about planning for the end game of rapid Chinese economic growth.



Babones, S.J. (2012), "A structuralist perspective on economic growth in China and India: anticipating the end game", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 32 No. 1/2, pp. 29-41.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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