Carsten A. HOLZ 

Professor of Social Science, HKUST


E-mail:                 Photo                                      CV      

Research interests: China's economy (in particular economic growth, regional economic development, Chinese statistics)
Field in economics: development economics, applied macroeconomics and monetary economics

ORCID 0000-0003-1293-5578

Google Scholar NIxNLlUAAAAJ

Scopus 6701402577


For publications and courses scroll down beyond top section


China Studies

"Have China Scholars All Been Bought?" Far Eastern Economic Review 170, no. 3 (April 2007): 36-40.
Article: free at FEER website; as pdf file. Criticism and response.

Along a similar vein: Book review China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development 1978-2018, edited by Ross Garnaut, Ligang Song, and Cai Fang. Canberra: Australian National University Press, 2018. In China Journal, no. 83 (January 2020): 179-192. Review


Hong Kong Academic Freedom

“By academic freedom I understand the right to search for truth and to publish and teach what one holds to be true. This right implies also a duty: one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.  It is evident that any restriction of academic freedom acts in such a way as to hamper the dissemination of knowledge among people and thereby impedes rational judgment and action.” Albert Einstein (Source)


3 September 2020. “Is Hong Kong Academia “Perfectly Safe” Or Is It “Dead?”,” Written in response to a colleague’s Op-ed in the South China Morning Post. (Here.) More on the publication practices / ‘red lines’ of the South China Morning Post is here.

20 September 2020. “Hong Kong Academic Freedom – Is It ‘Safe’ or ‘Dead’ under the National Security Law?Hong Kong Free Press



”Silence in the face of evil is evil itself” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)



31 October 2020. Application for allocation from General Research Fund for project “Academic Freedom at the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology” (here). Not funded. Review Panel comments, Comments by reviewer 1, 2, 3, 4. In the next grant application round, I stop reviewing proposals for the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (see item 2022-2-15 here).


19 November 2020. “University Rankings: Comparing Apples and Pears.” (Institutions of Higher Education without academic freedom have no place in university rankings) Here

29 December 2020. “Institutions of Higher Education without Academic Freedom Have No Place in University Rankings.International Higher Education, no. 106 (Spring 2021): 3-5.

The article is, exceptionally, censored (omitted) in the Chinese language edition of this issue of International Higher Education, which appeared belatedly in March 2022. (My article was included in the earlier released Portuguese, Russian, and Vietnamese editions.)

17 April 2021. Reprinted in University World News as “World University Rankings Are Rewarding Totalitarianism.

15 March 2021. “University Rankings: Comparing Apples and Pears.” Academia Letters, Article 290.



First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

    (Martin Niemöller)

First they came for the democratic activists, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a democratic activist.

Then they came for the independent parliamentarians, and I did not speak out—

     Because I was not a parliamentarian.

Then they came for RTHK, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not working at RTHK.

Then they came for the independent judges, and I did not speak out—
     Because I was not a judge.

Then they came for the Professional Teachers’ Union, and I did not speak out—

     Because I was just an ordinary member.

Then they came for the academics—and there was no one left to speak out for me.



2 April 2021. A colleague in the Social Science Division at HKUST is attacked in the “newspaper” of the “Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.” My take on the matter, shared with colleagues, is here (direct link to the email to colleagues here).


An article by Postiglione and Altbach in University World News (“Hong Kong higher education reaches an inflection point” (31 August 2021)) triggered a lengthy response by me (here), a much revised version of which appeared as:

21 November 2021. “Hong Kong Academia Is Well Past Its Inflection Point.University World News. (Original submission here)


27 January 2022. “Hong Kong’s Contested Academic Freedom.The Diplomat (Original submission here.)




Others on academic freedom in Hong Kong


Peter Baehr (through 2021 Research Professor in Social Theory, Lingnan University):

“Hong Kong Must Now Rely on Its Own Efforts to Protect Academic Freedom” (2 June 2020)

“Dictatorship and Responsibility in Hong Kong” (1 February 2021)

“Academic Life within Hong Kong’s Increasingly Repressive Political Atmosphere” (33min, undated Quillette podcast interview, likely April/May 2021,

“Hong Kong Universities in the Shadow of the National Security Law” (25 April 2022)


Sean Tierney’s very personal observations on the academic climate in Hong Kong today (9 December 2022), also raising the question of at what point, by staying in Hong Kong academia, one endorses a system of, in his words “craven authoritarianism and malignant stupidity.”


Michael C. Davis. “Hong Kong: How Beijing Perfected Repression.” With section on academic freedom. Journal of Democracy 33, no. 1 (January 2022): 100-15.


Hong Kong now has an academic freedom index of 0.23 (in 2022, bottom 10-20% worldwide, just below Russia, with the index down from 0.89 in 1997, the year of the handover, here) and ranks 140th worldwide in press freedom (2022 ranking, here).



University values


University Values in Cooperation Projects,” European University Association annual conference, write-up of presentation on 29 April 2022

Published as a European University Association ‘Expert Voice:’ ”The irrelevance of “university values”.” 17 October 2022

“Forget values statements. Universities need to support academic freedom” Times Higher Education, 16 November 2022. Heavily edited version of the original submission here.




HKUST -- for many more of my initiatives see here

2008. The Hong Kong Model of Academia (March 2008)

2014. Open letter to the Provost of HKUST (20 Feb. 2014)


2014. My experience with the HKUST grievance procedure 2013/2014. 22 December 2020. (Opens new webpage: Here)


2018. “The >Gleichschaltung< of the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.” Mimeo, 3 December 2018. Paper (or at Researchgate).


2020. HKUST (new) Guangzhou (GZ) campus: Critique (25 June 2020); earlier: Questions for the Provost (16 April 2020)


2020 Reflections on the Provost’s statements at the Social Science Division meeting on 7 December 2020 – A critique of the Provost’s view of current HKUST issues. 22 December 2020. Here


2020 HKUST’s pension fiasco. 13 September / 22 December 2020. Here


Publications (journals, books)
Abstracts of publications (through 2010)

“The Process of Economic Development in West Sichuan: The Case of Daocheng County.” Forthcoming in The China Quarterly (paper and appendices, 23 December 2022). An identical paper except for approx. 10% more article text and five times more footnote text (including more discussion and field work experiences), with all appendices appended, is here.


“PRC Industrial Policies Postdate Rather than Lead Economic Activity.” Chapter 8 in Erik Baark, Bert Hofman, and Jiwei QIAN (eds.), Innovation and China's Global Emergence, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, August 2021. Chapter (27 November 2019), Chapter (22 June 2020)


“Understanding PRC Investment Statistics.” Mimeo, 12 April 2019. Paper including appendices  (earlier version of 28 January 2019). Only appendices. China Economic Review 61 (June 2020), 19pp.


 “The Unfinished Business of State-owned Enterprise Reform in the People’s Republic of China.” Mimeo, 2 December 2018. Paper.


“Industrial Policies and the Changing Patterns of Investment in the PRC Economy.” The China Journal 81 (January 2019): 23-57. Paper (including appendices). Solely appendices. Earlier: “The Changing Patterns of Investment in the PRC Economy.” 16 March 2017. (Here)


“Physical Capital Estimates for China’s Provinces, 1952-2015 and Beyond.” With SUN Yue. China Economic Review 51 (October 2018): 342-57. (Paper and Dataset/Results),


“China’s Investment Rate: Implications and Data Reliability.” 1 November 2016 (Here). Revised 13 May 2018 (Here). Revised 22 April 2019 (Here). Journal submission experience.


“The Role of Investment in Structural Change in the PRC,” ADB Consultant’s Report, 7 March 2017. (Here)


“Wage and Price Dynamics in China.” With Aaron Mehrotra. The World Economy 39, no. 8 (Aug. 2016): 1109-27. Also: “Wage and Price Dynamics in a Large Emerging Economy: the Case of China.” Stanford University, SCID Working Paper 474, 13 May 2013 (; Bank for International Settlements Working Papers No. 409, April 2013 (; and The Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition BOFIT Discussion Papers 3/2014, 20 January 2014 (


“The Quality of China’s GDP Statistics.” China Economic Review 30 (September 2014): 309-38. Also Stanford University, SCID Working Paper 487, 2 December 2013 (, or published version here. Appendices.


“Understanding Money Demand in the Transition from a Centrally Planned to a Market Economy.” With Anne-Laure Delatte and Julien Fouquau. Post-Communist Economies 26, no. 3 (September 2014): 376-400. Earlier version of October 2011 titled “Explaining Money Demand in China During the Transition from a Centrally Planned to a Market-based Monetary System” as Bank of Finland BOFIT Discussion Paper 27 (2011). At:


“Wage Determination in China during the Reform Period.” The Bank of Finland Institute for Economies in Transition, BOFIT Discussion Paper 13/2014. 6 May 2014. Working paper of 25 June / 3 Oct. 2014.


“Chinese Statistics: Classification Systems and Data Sources.” Eurasian Geography and Economics 54, no. 5/6 (2013): 532-71. Earlier version: Stanford University, SCID Working Paper 471, 8 January 2013 ( Appendices (sectoral classification systems, representativeness of directly reporting industrial enterprises, data sources)


“Monthly Industrial Output in China 1980-2012.” China Economic Review 28 (March 2014): 1-16. Earlier version: Stanford University, SCID Working Paper 472, (revised version of) 12 September 2013 (


“Chinese Statistics: Output Data.” (Not designed as journal article.) Stanford University, SCID Working Paper 473, 1 March 2013 (

"The Unbalanced Growth Hypothesis and the Role of the State: the Case of China's State-owned Enterprises." Journal of Development Economics 96, no. 2 (Nov. 2011): 220-38.

"No Razor's Edge: Reexamining Alwyn Young's Evidence for Increasing Inter-Provincial Trade Barriers in China." The Review of Economics and Statistics 91, no. 3 (Aug. 2009): 599-616.

"China's Economic Growth 1978-2025: What We Know Today about China's Economic Growth Tomorrow." 26 Dec. 2006 (not final). (Appendices.) World Development 36, no. 10 (Oct. 2008): 1665-1691. Appendices of final version.

"China's 2004 Economic Census and 2006 Benchmark Revision of GDP Statistics: More Questions Than Answers."  The China Quarterly, no. 193 (March 2008): 150-63. Published version. Copyright holder: The China Quarterly / School of Oriental and African Studies.

"Spatial Price Differences in China: Estimates and Implications." With Loren Brandt. Economic Development and Cultural Change 55, no. 1 (Oct. 2006): 43-86.

"New Capital Estimates for China." China Economic Review 17, no. 2 (2006): 142-85. Paper.  Appendices
Also in the same issue: "Response to Gregory C. Chow's 'New Capital Estimates for China: Comments'," pp. 193-97.

"China's Reform Period Economic Growth: How Reliable Are Angus Maddison's Estimates." Review of Income and Wealth 52, no. 1 (March 2006): 85-119. Paper. Appendices. My response to Maddison's reply to my paper, published as: "China’s Reform Period Economic Growth: How Reliable Are Angus Maddison’s Estimates? Response to Angus Maddison’s Reply." Review of Income and Wealth 52, no. 3 (Sept. 2006): 471-5.

"Deconstructing China's GDP Statistics." China Economic Review 15, no. 2 (2004): 164-202. Paper.

"China's Statistical System in Transition: Challenges, Data Problems, and Institutional Innovations." Review of Income and Wealth 50, no. 3 (Sept. 2004): 381-409. Paper.

China's State-owned Enterprises between Profitability and Bankruptcy. World Scientific, 2003. (monograph)
    Update on the definition of "state-owned and state-controlled enterprises." Abstract and table of contents

"'Fast, Clear and Accurate:' How Reliable Are Chinese Output and Economic Growth Statistics?" The China Quarterly, no. 173 (March 2003): 122-63. Paper.

"Long Live China's State-owned Enterprises: Deflating the Myth of Poor Financial Performance." Journal of Asian Economics 13, no. 4 (July/August 2002): 493-529. Paper.

"Institutional Constraints on the Quality of Statistics in a Developing and Transitional Economy: the Case of China." China Information 16, no 1 (2002): 25-67. Paper

"The 1997-1998 Break in Industrial Statistics: Facts and Appraisal." With Yi-min Lin. Contribution to symposium on China's statistics. China Economic Review 12, no. 4 (2001): 303-16. Paper.

"Pitfalls of China's Industrial Statistics: Inconsistencies and Specification Problems." With Yi-min Lin. The China Review 1, no. 1 (Fall 2001): 29-71. Paper.

"Identifying the Patterns of Profitability Across Chinese State-owned Enterprises: Which Industrial State-owned Enterprises in China Are Profitable?" Journal of Asian Business 17, no. 2 (2001): 33-62. Paper.

"The Impact of the Liability-Asset Ratio on Profitability in China's Industrial State-owned Enterprises." China Economic Review 13, no. 1 (2002): 1-26. Paper.

"The Impact of Competition and Labor Remuneration on Profitability in China's Industrial State-owned Enterprises."  Journal of Contemporary China 11, no. 32 (Aug. 2002): 515-38. Paper.

"Why Do Aggregate Production Functions Work? Fisher's simulations, Shaik's Identity and Some New Results." With Jesus Felipe. International Review of Applied Economics 15, no. 3 (July 2001): 261-85. Paper.

"Economic Reforms and State Sector Bankruptcy in China." The China Quarterly, no. 166 (June 2001): 342-67. Paper. Appendix.

"Banking and Enterprise Reform in the People's Republic of China after the Asian Financial Crisis: An Appraisal." With Tian Zhu. Asian Development Review 18, no. 1 (2001): 73-93. Paper.

"China's Monetary Reform: The Counterrevolution from the Countryside." Journal of Contemporary China 10, no. 27 (2001): 189-217. Paper.

"The Changing Role of Money in China and Its Implications." Comparative Economic Studies 42, no. 3 (Fall 2000): 77-100. Paper.

"Contractionary Investment Policies in China 1988/89: Accounting for the Implementation Difficulties and Successes." The China Quarterly, no. 160 (Dec. 1999): 881-918. Paper.

The Role of Central Banking in China's Economic Reforms. Cornell East Asia Series, No. 59. Ithaca: Cornell University East Asia Program, 1992. (monograph)


Other publications

“In Memoriam Universities Service Center.” October 2021. (here) Chapter in USC的故事


“Is Excessive Domestic Investment Hurting China?” MERICS China Monitor No. 29, 18 November 2015. (here)


“China’s GDP Data Are Better Than You Think.” Bloomberg Brief: Building China’s Data System, September 2014, p. 4. At:


“Can We Trust the Numbers?” China Economic Quarterly 18, no. 1 (March 2014): 43-50.


“Here Be Dragons? China’s Economic Data May Not Be All Bad.” The Conversation, 3 March 2014 (

"Statistics." Entry in Encyclopedia of Modern China, Charles Scribner's Sons / Gale Group, forthcoming.

"Have China Scholars All Been Bought?" Far Eastern Economic Review 170, no. 3 (April 2007): 36-40.
Article: free at FEER website; as pdf file. Criticism and response.

"More Number Games." China Economic Quarterly 10, no. 3 (third quarter, 2006): 40-44.

"Why China's Growth is Sustainable." Far Eastern Economic Review 169, no. 3 (April 2006): 41-6.

"Why China's New GDP Data Matters." Far Eastern Economic Review 169, no. 1 (Jan./Feb. 2006): 54-7.

"The Institutional Arrangements for the Production of Statistics." OECD---China Governance Project. OECD Statistics working paper, STD/DOC (2005) 1, 19 Jan. 2005.

"China's Economic Growth Statistics: Trustworthy in the Long Run, Less So in the Short Run." Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University, APARC Dispatch October 2004. For full text click here.


Book reviews (since 2015)


Garnaut, Ross, Ligang Song, and Cai Fang (eds.). China’s 40 Years of Reform and Development 1978-2018. (Acton ACT, Australia: Australian National University Press, 2018.) The China Journal, no. 83 (January 2020). Here.

Subacci, Paola. The People’s Money: How China Is Building a Global Currency. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017.) China Information 31, no. 2 (July 2017). Here.

Yueh, Linda. China’s Growth: The Making of an Economic Superpower. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.) The China Journal 74 (July 2015): 169-171. Here.

Xu, Yi-chong (ed.). The Political Economy of State-owned Enterprises in China and India. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.) The Journal of Asian Studies 74, no. 2 (May 2015): 486-8. Here.

SHENG Hong, and ZHAO Nong. China’s State-owned Enterprises: Nature, Performance, and Reform. (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Company, 2013.) The Journal of Asian Studies 74, no. 2 (May 2015): 482-3. Here.


Academic employment and qualifications



Visiting Professor, Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University



Visiting Professor, Department of Economics, Harvard University (on sabbatical leave)



Visiting Professor, Stanford Center for International Development, Stanford University     



Visiting Professor, Department of Economics, University of Southern California



Professor, Social Science Division, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST)



Visiting Research Scholar, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, and Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Economics and Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University



Visiting Scholar, Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University (on sabbatical leave)



Associate Professor, Social Science Division, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology (HKUST)



Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Cornell University



Assistant Professor, Social Science Division, HKUST



Ph.D., Department of Economics, Cornell University

Earlier working papers and other research

"How can a subset of industry produce more output than all of industry?" 2pp. note on 2006 and 2007 industrial value added. 27 Nov. 08

"The Quantity and Quality of Labor in China 1978-2000-2025." (Manuscript constructing labor data) May 2005. 81pp.

"Financing Constraints and Investment in China's Township and Village Enterprises." e December 1999. Paper.

"China's Bad Loan Problem." 7 April 1999. Paper.

Course outlines

Most recent

SOSC 1440 Introduction to Economics (Fall 2023)

and SOSC 1449 Understanding Our Economy (Fall 2023)

SPI594x Economic Growth and Reform in China (Spring 2023), Master in Public Affairs program, School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

SPI512b Macroeconomics Analysis for Policymakers (Spring 2023), Master in Public Affairs program, School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

SPI482 The Chinese Economy (Fall 2022), School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

SOSC 1440 Introduction to Economics (Spring 2018)

SOSC 4260 China’s Economic Transformation (Spring 2018, Spring 2024)

Earlier (course outlines on the HKUST teaching server are apparently no longer accessible)

SOSC 181    Introduction to China's Economy

SOSC 260    China's Economy

SOSC 301B  Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences

SOSC 340    International Monetary and Financial Economics

SOSC 359    Money and Banking in China

Principles of Economics, Intermediate Microeconomics, Introductory Macroeconomics, Intermediate Macroeconomics (standard textbook courses)

SOSC 341 East Asian Economic Development [course outline of spring 2009]
    [syllabus of spring 2008, as taught in the Economics Department at Princeton University]
USC Econ 343  Economics of East Asia

SOSC 511    Social Science Research Methods

SOSC 515    China's Economic Growth [course outline of spring 1998]

SOSC 534    Quantitative Analysis in the Social Sciences [course outline of spring 2007]

The Chinese Economy [syllabus of spring 2008, as taught in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University]

SOSC 543    The Chinese Economy [fall 2008]
SOSC 543 / 323 The Chinese Economy [fall 2009]
USC Econ 346  Economics of Transition and Development: China

SOSC 544    Economics of Development [course outline of spring 2010]

How to get to HKUST (Written up around 2000. Minibus 11 from Choi Hong to HKUST now stops at the back gate of HKUST (2014). As of 2022, office allocations have changed with the general office now on the 2nd floor, Room 2338, and my/Carsten’s office at 2368.)

University homepage ->

Hong Kong model of academia, HKUST matters (webpage discontinued mid 2000s)

Social Science Division homepage  

My mailing address: Carsten Holz, SOSC, HKUST, Clear Water Bay, Kowloon, Hong Kong. [HK doesn't have zip codes.]

Tel. in Hong Kong (+852): 2358-7835 (office); dept. general office 2358-7811.

Last (partial) update: 13 October 2023 (and I tend to forget to update this date when I update the page)