Atlantic Economic Journal

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 161–177 | Cite as

Determinants of Real Chinese GDP 1978–2014

  • George K. Zestos
  • Wei Guo
  • Ryan Patnode


In 2014, the IMF reported that China became the largest economy in the world according to Purchasing Power Parity rates. This study aims to explain the Chinese economic miracle. It focuses on frequently suggested factors influencing China’s real gross domestic product (GDP), such as export promotion, exchange rate policy, and foreign direct investment (FDI). The paper employs the Bounds test of the autoregressive distributed lag (ARDL) model to test for cointegration. Once cointegration is established, Granger Causality is investigated using the vector autoregressive model and the Toda and Yamamoto (1995) method. Two different combinations of the real macroeconomic variables exports, exchange rate, imports, and FDI were employed to examine Granger causal relationships. All explanatory variables, except for the exchange rate, were found to have plausible relationships with GDP. The exchange rate and GDP relationship was unexpected; a Renminbi appreciation was associated with an increase in GDP. To investigate this paradox, a third ARDL model was estimated with exports as the dependent variable and the exchange rate, world GDP, and FDI as the independent variables. In this model, we found evidence of cointegration and a plausible relationship between real exports and the real exchange rate. Exchange rate devaluation increased exports and thus indirectly increased GDP. Such findings help to resolve the unexpected results. Nonetheless, according to the Granger causality tests the established statistical evidence is rather weak. We found that both the exchange rate and FDI are no longer strong drivers of economic growth in China.


ARDL-bounds test Granger causality Cointegration FDI Exchange rate Exports Imports Chinese GDP 


C10 O10 O50 



We express our gratitude to Hunter Simons for excellent research assistance. We also thank Christopher Newport University and the chair of the Department of Economics, Dr. Robert Winder. Particularly we thank the Dean of Social Sciences, Dr. Robert Colvin, for his continuous support. Finally, we thank Dr. Roark Mulligan for his constructive criticism.

Supplementary material

11293_2018_9580_MOESM1_ESM.docx (296 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 295 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Atlantic Economic Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsChristopher Newport UniversityNewport NewsUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsHarbin Finance UniversityHarbinChina

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