¿La China de los salarios bajos está desapareciendo?

BEIJING – Últimamente abundan los informes sobre escasez de mano de obra, disputas salariales y aumentos de sueldo para los trabajadores migrantes en China. Naturalmente, estos informes generaron temores, o expectativas, de que las ventajas de los costos de mano de obra de China pueden estar desapareciendo.

Yo albergo la esperanza de que la ventaja comparativa de China como un productor con salarios bajos efectivamente desaparezca –y cuanto antes, mejor-. ¿Por qué, como economista chino, debería anhelar que la competitividad de China se reduzca a través de crecientes costos laborales? Después de todo, cuando un país todavía carece de ventajas reales, como una mayor educación, mercados y empresas eficientes y una capacidad de innovación, necesita algo, como los salarios bajos, para mantener el crecimiento.

Si bien la mano de obra barata ha sido un factor clave en la generación de un elevado crecimiento en las últimas tres décadas, también ha contribuido a profundas disparidades de ingresos, especialmente en los últimos años. Y la creciente y persistente desigualdad tal vez dé lugar a crisis sociales que podrían interrumpir el crecimiento y afectar la competitividad. China debe evitar un escenario de este tipo, y si los salarios pudieran aumentar de alguna manera significativa, indicaría que la economía finalmente podría pasar a la próxima etapa de desarrollo, durante la cual se achicarían las disparidades de ingresos.

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