Unlike in OECD countries, fluctuations in output growth in China are not straightforward in their interpretation. On the one hand, they reflect the business cycle, which results from shocks to aggregate demand. On the other hand, they also reflect the structural transformations that have accompanied China's transition to a market economy. Demand shocks can be identified by virtue of the persistence of their impact. This paper decomposes the variance in provincial, regional, and national output growth according to its persistence characteristics. The results suggest that during the reform period, only a minority of output growth variance can be attributed to demand shocks and business cycle fluctuations. It is also found that there is substantial heterogeneity in the persistence characteristics of output growth across provinces. Implications of the findings for macroeconomic policy are discussed.