Isobel Coleman

Democracy in Development

Coleman maps the intersections between political reform, economic growth, and U.S. policy in the developing world.

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Missing Pieces: China’s College Graduates, Global Growth, and More

by Isobel Coleman
January 18, 2013

Students prepare for the university entrance exam in a classroom in Hefei, Anhui Province, China, June 2, 2012 (Jianan Yu/Courtesy Reuters).


Charles Landow highlights two articles and two reports in this edition of Missing Pieces. Enjoy!
  • China’s College Graduates: Last week I noted a paper suggesting that in order to avoid the middle-income trap, China must produce highly skilled college graduates. A New York Times piece this week explores that very challenge. Through vast investments in both public and private universities, China should have some 195 million “community college and university graduates” by 2020—more than the United States (which will have 120 million), though still a far lower percentage of the population. The question is whether China can foster “the world-class creativity and innovation that modern economies require.” According to the article, some believe college enrollments have “outstripped the supply of qualified professors and instructors.” It is also unclear whether “hierarchical” Chinese firms can make the best use of the country’s talent, and whether China’s economy can produce enough satisfying jobs for its “glut of college graduates with high expectations.”
  • Global Growth: The World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report is fairly sanguine, though hardly effusive. Growth has picked up among developing countries in recent months, it says, but this could be derailed by such scenarios as a renewed Eurozone crisis, “continued fiscal policy uncertainty in the United States,” or a swift drop in China’s sky-high investment. The Bank forecasts that China will maintain annual growth of around 8 percent through 2015 while India’s accelerates to 7 percent that year from 5.1 percent in 2012. South Africa is projected to grow at 2.7 percent this year, increasing to 3.3 percent by 2015; Nigeria is set to maintain annual expansion of more than 6 percent. And after growing by just 0.9 percent last year, Brazil should pick up to around 4 percent annually. Mexico should remain steady at just under that level.
  • Falling Freedom: Freedom House’s 2013 Freedom in the World report paints a mixed picture, noting both popular “demands for change” and widespread “authoritarian retrenchment.” This “overall ferment includes a potential for progress as well as deterioration.” Seven countries ascended the ranks of freedom: Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, and Libya moved from Not Free to Partly Free, while Lesotho, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Tonga moved from Partly Free to Free. Mali and Guinea-Bissau both fell to Not Free; war-torn Mali, previously considered Free, took an especially steep fall. Many other countries experienced important developments even if not a change in ranking. In a blog post, CFR’s Josh Kurlantzick reviews the report’s launch event, hosted by Mark Lagon at CFR’s Washington, DC, office. Kurlantzick notes the finding that authoritarian powers such as China and Russia are both tightening conditions at home and exercising more influence abroad. He also published two excerpts (here and here) of his forthcoming book, Democracy in Retreat.
  • Mongolia’s Mines: According to the IMF, Mongolia’s economy last year grew by more than 12 percent. And it was not even a banner year. In 2011 the country grew by more than 17 percent; this year’s rate should top 15. Behind the boom is mining. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, “the land of Genghis Khan is struggling with the fallout.” Food prices are skyrocketing. The capital, Ulan Bator, faces pollution, traffic, and other woes as it strains to accommodate migrants streaming in from the countryside. More broadly, the Journal says, Mongolia is struggling to strike a balance between investment friendliness and many citizens’ concerns that “the big projects give away too much to the Chinese.” I highlighted another piece on Mongolia’s mixed fortunes last fall.

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  • Posted by news

    China’s growth has been exceptional and the fact their banks are beginning to lend so much on overseas projects just shows they show no sign of slowing down in growth?

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