Catching Up to America: Culture, Institutions, and the Rise of China

Research output: Book/ReportMonograph


China's rapid rise is doubtless the most significant economic and geopolitical event in the 21st century. What has led to its rise? What does it mean for the rest of the world? When will China overtake the US? Will the conflict between the two superpowers derail its further rise? Can China's development experience be emulated by other countries? These are some of the important questions addressed in this jargon-free, yet rigorous book. It debunks many popular explanations of China's rapid economic growth ranging from abundance of cheap labor, export promotion, demographic dividend, strong government, to mercantilist policies and IP theft. Taking a global comparative approach, this book demonstrates convincingly that the true differentiating factor making China grow faster than other developing countries over the past four decades is the Confucian culture of savings and education. This cultural perspective yields powerful new insights into many questions regarding China's rise.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages273
ISBN (Electronic)9781009038997
ISBN (Print)9781316510612
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Author information

Tian Zhu is Professor and Santander Chair in Economics at China European International Business School (CEIBS). Before joining CEIBS in 2005, he taught at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) for 10 years. Zhu is an expert on China's economy, having published many articles and also two books in the area. Zhu was awarded the 2017 Bergson Prize by the Association for Comparative Economic Studies for the best article published in Comparative Economic Studies. Educated in China and the US, Zhu received his BSc, MA, and PhD degrees from Tsinghua University, Peking University, and Northwestern University, respectively.



Call number



  • Economics
  • International Economics
  • Economic Development and Growth
  • China
  • cultural perspective


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