Here’s a Wall Street Journal article from over a year ago: “China Soon to Have Almost as Many Drivers as U.S. Has People“.

An extract:

As of [November 27, 2014], the number of Chinese motor-vehicle drivers was poised to break past 300 million people, according to the country’s top law-enforcement agency, including 244 million licensed passenger-car drivers. The U.S., by comparison, has about 319 million men, women and children, and nearly 212 million licensed drivers.

There is a link there to China’s Ministry of Public Security, where the data came from. I’ve been to the page. It looks like this:

Erm... This is the announcement
Erm… This is the announcement

But thanks to the wonders of ctrl+c, ctrl+v, and Google Translate, I can confirm that the first paragraph reads:

As of November 27, the number of motor vehicle drivers breakthrough the 300 million mark, where motorists 244 million people; the national civilian vehicle population amounted to 264 million, 154 million of which automobiles; the driver of the number of ranked first in the world First, the number of cars ranked second in the world. Ministry of Public Security Traffic Management Bureau official said, marking the development of China’s road transport has reached a new node is to promote a higher level of road traffic management a new starting point.

Which is basically my way of saying: “The data: it checks out. Assuming that you trust Chinese government statistics. Or just this particular set of statistics.”

The point is: the world is rubbishing China a lot. But however bearish you feel about it, there are some fundamental points to be made here:

  1. The development of China has a long way to go yet.
  2. Even just looking at driving statistics, less than a quarter of China’s population can drive.
  3. Compared to two thirds of the US population that can drive.
  4. Despite this, China is the country that is famous for crazy smog and crazy traffic.
  5. That doesn’t sound like a country that has over-invested in infrastructure. That sounds like a country in desperate need of more infrastructure.

But Chinese data, right? Who knows.

Anyway. I mention this because I have an infographic that I wanted to share this morning – but it made reference to the above Chinese driving stat, so I couldn’t just post it without a bit of a Google search for a more credible source.

Said infographic (also, it’s a shameless plug for a book – but I thought it was interesting anyway):


Happy Wednesday.

Rolling Alpha posts about finance, economics, and sometimes stuff that is only quite loosely related. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, or like my page on Facebook at Or both.