Death versus GDP! decoding the fatality indicators on work safety regulation in post-deng China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journal

10 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-377
Journal / PublicationChina Quarterly
Issue number210
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


This article examines how Chinese reformers have used a set of fatality indicators to deal with the serious work safety situation in the past two decades. It argues that the system of fatality indicators is a prudent strategy to tackle the responsibility deficiencies in the previous work safety regulatory system and strengthen the central government's supervision over local safety management. The primary purpose of implementing the fatality indicators is to shift local officials' focus from a GDP-centred growth mode to a new mindset of achieving a balance between economic development and social stability in local governance. The article also indicates that the decline in work-related fatalities in recent years is evidence of the effectiveness of the fatality indicators. These achievements aside, however, the introduction of fatality indicators is closely associated with an increase in local officials' dishonest reporting of real death tolls and the fluctuation in very serious accidents. © 2012 The China Quarterly.

Research Area(s)

  • accountability, fatality indicators, GDP, performance measurement, Work safety, work-related accidents