Dobell is particularly interested in the work of Ross Garnaut (chapter 2 of the proceedings). The key finding?
There is now compelling evidence that the period of labour surplus andr easonably steady real wages for unskilled workers—supported by continuing large-scale movement of people from agriculture to industry and from the countryside to the cities—has come to an end. The implications of this change for all aspects of Chinese development will be profound.
It’s worth observing that this is, apparently, by no means a consensus position. The Economist‘s By Invitation page has several contributions suggesting otherwise: indeed, Yang Yao argues that this point is getting further away:
First, it cannot be made congruent with the fact that the countryside still has 45% of China’s labour force, but agriculture only contributes to 11% of China’s national GDP…Indeed, we find that China is moving away from the turning point, primarily because agriculture has become more mechanised and squeezed out labour.
While the exact timing may not yet be clear, sooner or later the “turning point” will be reached, and it sounds like it’s not that far away. The consequences not only for China, but the rest of the world, will indeed be profound.