China’s remarkable growth rate is unlikely to last. No country in history has managed to grow nearly so fast for so long.
“China is defying the law of gravity at the moment,” says New York University economist William Easterly, who has tracked economic development for decades. “But that doesn’t mean that gravity is wrong.”
From 1900 to 2000, NYU’s Mr. Easterly says, per-capita growth of all countries ranged between 1% to 3% a year. Nearly all the nations on the high end so far, he says, are democratic capitalist countries — and the additional growth over long periods of time made them rich.
“When we make too much of growth spurts,” he says, “it like making too much of a basketball player who has a hot hand.”