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Working Papers

Real Estate Opportunities and Risks in China

Working paper #582
Youguo Liang and M. Shayne Arcilla

Since China’s adoption of its open-door policy in 1978, real GDP has grown 9.7 percent per year. Last year, China overtook the United Kingdom as the fourth-largest economy in the world. China is experiencing slow population growth, at about 0.6 percent per year, but massive urbanization will expand the urban population by more than one-third over the next ten years, with annual increases projected to be more than 19 million. China’s middle class and affluent households now compose fewer than one-quarter of all urban households, but their share will rise substantially over the next decade. The downside risks to China’s future growth should not be overlooked. Severe environmental issues, the increasing income gap between rich and poor, and external political tensions could slow or derail economic growth. Investors also face risks arising from China’s deficient legal system, underdeveloped contract law, and cronyism and corruption in government. Foreign currency control, the government’s monopoly on land supply and frequent rule changes are additional hurdles that investors need to overcome.

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