Predicted Chinese GDP from New York Fed economist analysis shows that official data may have been understating China's growth since 2012. Source: New York Fed, China Premium Database (CEIC Data)

Long-standing questions surrounding official Chinese economic data has led to a debate about how to measure the country’s hulking economy. It also led many observers to warn in 2015 of the world’s second largest economy’s imminent collapse, despite healthy growth numbers coming from the government.

A new study from the New York Fed has found that those official Chinese statistics, far from overstating China’s growth, may have understated it, at least since 2012.

Economists used data from satellite measurements of China’s nighttime light emissions, along with a reweighted Li Keqiang Index to estimate a growth trajectory that better reflected China’s changing economy.

What they found was that, at least since 2012, official government GDP figures may have been lower than actual growth.

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