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The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance

No 93:
Soft Budget Constraints: An Analysis Based on a Survey of Chinese Township Enterprises

Örjan Sjöberg and Zhang Gang

Abstract: The reduced influence of soft budget constrints is often seen as an explanation for the successful growth of China's non-state sector. Views differ, however, as to whether collectively owned rural enterprise are in fact subject to hard financial discipline. This paper reports an inquiry into the issue. The study examines the financial behaviour of REs, particularly that of loss-making enterprises, by scrutinising a set of survey data of 630 rural enterprises in Sichuan and Zhejiang (China), Being primarily explorative and conceptual in nature, our study reveals that soft budget constraints can still be observed to be enjoyed by many rural enterprises, in particular among those collectively owned. As the budget constraints do appear to become more rigid, however, enterprises look for other opportunities to ease the financial dixcipline forced upon them by the market and by increasingly illiquid local governments. Accumulating inter-enterprise arrears, as well as withholding wage payments, are identified as means frequently used towards this end by REs in transitional Chinese economy.

Keywords: Soft budget constraints; economic transition; China; rural industry; township and village enterprises; inter-enterprise arrears; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: P21; P32; (follow links to similar papers)

35 pages, January 1996

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