Development of the digital economy, transformation of the economic structure and leaping of the middle-income trap
Currently, China’s economy is in the critical phase of transforming economic development patterns and replacing old growth drivers with new ones. Whether it can successfully overcome the “middle-income trap” has become a significant issue attracting wide attention.Design/methodology/approachDriven by underlying digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud computing and big data, the fourth industrial revolution featuring the booming digital economy has provided significant opportunities for China’s economy to “overtake” and overcome the “middle-income trap”. The transformation of economic development pattern, the optimization of industrial structure, and the change of growth drivers, brought by the deep integration of digital and real economies are the keys to leaping over the “middle-income trap”.FindingsFrom the supply side, the digital economy can improve the quality and efficiency of the supply side and promote the supply-side structural reform and economic growth from the following three aspects: First, promote the quality, efficiency and diversification of the supply system; second, promote networking, opening-up and synergy in the innovation system and third, promote the socialization, modularization and flexibility of production pattern. From the demand side, the digital economy can boost the new drivers of the “troika” of economic growth consisting of consumption, exports and investment by changing the market investment direction, promoting consumption upgrade and fostering export strengths. However, once these two attributes interact with each other, especially when data is combined with capital, the most adhesive factor in the market economy, a series of new social relations will then be produced based on the technical attribute, resulting in significant adjustments in social relations, involving both positive and negative externalities.Originality/valueTo overcome the “middle-income trap”, it is necessary to adapt to the laws of economic evolution and promote a fundamental change in economic growth drivers; boost the high-quality development of the digital economy by strengthening the support role of data in the digital economy; and accelerate digital industrialization and industrial digitalization to realize the integration of digital and real economies.