Where have all the pigs gone? Inconsistencies in pork statistics in China

Xiaohua Yu, David Abler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Official agricultural statistics for China are subject to major inconsistencies and have long been questioned by researchers. The major problem with Chinese meat statistics is that reported meat supply is far greater than consumption, and this is particularly true for pork. Factors contributing to the gap between pork supply and consumption include production over-reporting, loss and waste in the pork supply chain, pork consumed away from home (FAFH), and a mismatch in the Chinese rural household survey between food and mouths (i.e. migrant workers and boarding students who are counted as rural household members but live in urban areas for much of the year). Our estimates indicate that over-reporting of pork production has declined substantially since 2003, but it is still significant and is the largest contributor to the gap between reported supply and consumption. Our estimates also indicate that pork consumption is significantly under-estimated because of FAFH and the rural mismatch between food and mouths. Reforms to the agricultural statistical system should be considered that increase the incentives to report accurate production statistics. Statistics are currently based on reports from local officials who have incentives to inflate production figures so as to improve their performance reviews and prospects for promotion, or they are overseen by local statistical personnel appointed by local governments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)469-484
Number of pages16
JournalChina Economic Review
StatePublished - Sep 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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