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Explaining the Changes of Income Distribution in China

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  • Lixin Colin Xu

    (Development Research Group, the World Bank)

  • Heng-fu Zou

    (Guanghua School of Management, Peking University
    Institute for Advanced Study, Wuhan University
    Development Research Group, the World Bank)

Abstract

China has experienced one of the most remarkable increase in inequality over the last decade: the Gini coefficient increasing from 25.7 in 1984 to 37.8 in 1992. Using the recent developments in the theory of income distribution (Benerjee and Newman, 1993; Galor and Zeira, 1993) and a new panel data set about Chinese provincial-urban-level income inequality, this paper finds that inequality increased with the reduction of the share of state-owned enterprises in GDP, high inflation, growth, and (less significantly) the increasing exposure to foreign trade. We also find some evidence for the Director¡¯s Law: income redistribution tends to shift resources from the rich and the poor to the middle class. We do not find schooling and urbanization to be a significant explanatory factor.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics in its series CEMA Working Papers with number 473.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in China Economic Review, Volume 11, Issue 2, December 2000, Pages 149-170
Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:473

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Web page: http://cema.cufe.edu.cn/
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  1. Tsui, Kai-yuen, 1996. "Economic reform and interprovincial inequalities in China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 353-368, August.
  2. Hongyi Li & Danyang Xie & Heng-Fu Zou, 2000. "Dynamics of income distribution," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 33(4), pages 937-961, November.
  3. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
  4. Greenwood, J. & Jovanovic, B., 1990. "Financial Development, Growth, And The Distribution Of Income," University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations Working Papers 9002, University of Western Ontario, The Centre for the Study of International Economic Relations.
  5. Perotti, Roberto, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 755-76, October.
  6. Hongyi Li & Heng-fu Zou, 1998. "Income Inequality Is Not Harmful for Growth: Theory and Evidence," CEMA Working Papers 74, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  7. Li, Hongyi & Squire, Lyn & Zou, Heng-fu, 1998. "Explaining International and Intertemporal Variations in Income Inequality," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(446), pages 26-43, January.
  8. Edwards, Sebastian, 1997. "Trade Policy, Growth, and Income Distribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 205-10, May.
  9. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
  10. Alesina, Alberto F & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 565, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Jaume Ventura & Francesco Caselli, 2000. "A Representative Consumer Theory of Distribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 909-926, September.
  12. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Stigler, George J, 1970. "Director's Law of Public Income Redistribution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 1-10, April.
  14. Atkinson, A B, 1997. "Bringing Income Distribution in from the Cold," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 297-321, March.
  15. Chatterjee, Satyajit, 1994. "Transitional dynamics and the distribution of wealth in a neoclassical growth model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 97-119, May.
  16. Lyons, Thomas P, 1991. "Interprovincial Disparities in China: Output and Consumption, 1952-1987," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(3), pages 471-506, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Wei, Kailei & Yao, Shujie & Liu, Aying, 2008. "Foreign Direct Investment and Regional Inequality in China," Working Paper Series RP2008/94, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  2. Feng, Zhixin & Wang, Wenfei Winnie & Jones, Kelvyn & Li, Yaqing, 2012. "An exploratory multilevel analysis of income, income inequality and self-rated health of the elderly in China," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2481-2492.
  3. Maasoumi, Esfandiar & Wang, Le, 2006. "Economic Reform, Growth and Convergence in China," Departmental Working Papers 0602, Southern Methodist University, Department of Economics.
  4. Saccone Donatella, 2011. "Potenze economiche emergenti: Cina e India a confronto.Istruzione e diseguaglianze," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201113, University of Turin.
  5. Ding, Ning & Wang, Yougui, 2008. "Household income mobility in China and its decomposition," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 373-380, September.
  6. Guggiola Gabriele, 2009. "A Political Economy Perspective of the Chinese Government Tactical Behavior," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 200908, University of Turin.
  7. Heshmati, Almas, 2004. "Continental and Sub-Continental Income Inequality," IZA Discussion Papers 1271, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Pedro H. Albuquerque, 2004. "Inequality-Driven Growth: Unveiling Aggregation Effects in Growth Equations," Econometric Society 2004 Far Eastern Meetings 769, Econometric Society.
  9. Tsun Se Cheong & Yanrui Wu, 2013. "Globalization and Regional Inequality," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 13-10, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
  10. Qinghua Zhang & Heng-fu Zou, 2012. "Regional Inequality in Contemporary China," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 13(1), pages 113-137, May.
  11. Xuemei Bai & Gang Li, 2004. "Industrial Productivity Convergence in China," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(2), pages 155-168.
  12. Knight, John & Shi, Li & Renwei, Zhao, 2004. "Divergent Means and Convergent Inequality of Incomes among the Provinces and Cities of Urban China," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  13. Li, Yan & DaCosta, Maria N., 2013. "Transportation and income inequality in China: 1978–2007," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 56-71.

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