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The Scale of the Chinese Government in the Comparative Perspective: The Number of Employees (No.188, 2018)


By Gao Shiji, Xu Wei & Xu Xiaoxin, Basic Research Team on “National Governance System and Governance Capability”, DRC

Research Report, No.188, 2018 (Total 5463) 2018-11-7

Abstract: This report distinguishes the concept of government officials and generalized government employees, and compares the scale of government officials and employees with that of the major OECD countries in a horizontal and vertical way. In 2015, the proportion of general government employees in China accounted for 3.28% of the total population, less than 1/2 of their American counterpart in the same period, and far below the OECD national average. Generalized government employees account for 5.6% of the total employed population, which is close to that of Japan, lower than that of Korea and far below the average proportion of the United States and OECD countries. Viewing from a longitudinal perspective, the total population of the Chinese government officials in 2010 was lower than that of the US in 1942. Generally speaking, the expansion of government scale is the inevitable reflection of the expansion of government functions and the basic law of the development of modern countries; the relative scale of the Chinese government is small rather than too large by the standard of the number of government officials; the general scale of the Chinese government is close to that of Japan and South Korea, and the reform of government institutions needs to be combined with the reform of public institutions. The main problems of the government departments are its functions and structure. We need to increase the number of government employees at the central level, reduce the number of city and county officials, and let more government employees engage in the supply and organization of public services.

Key words: employee quantity, comparative perspective, OECD countries, modern nation development