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Reform Without Losers: An Interpretation of China's Dual-Track Approach to Transition

Oct 1997
Stanford King Center on Global Development Working Paper
We develop a simple model to analyze the "dual-track" approach to transition to a market economy as a mechanism for implementing efficient Pareto-improving economic reform, that is, reform achieving efficiency without creating losers. The approach, based on the continued enforcement of the existing plan while simultaneously liberalizing the market, can be understood as a method for making implicit lumpsum transfers to compensate potential losers of the reform. The model highlights the critical role of enforcement of the plan and full liberalization of the market track. We examine how the dual-track approach has worked in product and labor markets in China's economic reform in practice.