In search of the elusive Chinese urban middle class: An exploratory analysis
AbstractThis paper aims to identify and characterize the Chinese urban middle class. We propose to improve the description of the middle class using an innovative approach combining an economic approach (based on income) and a sociological approach (based on education and occupation). The empirical investigations conducted as part of this research are based on the China Health and Nutrition Survey (2009). First, we define the middle income class as households with an annual per capita income between 10,000 yuan and the 95th percentile. On this basis, approximately fifty percent of urban households may be said to belong to the middle class. Second, we use information on employment and education to characterize the heterogeneity of the middle income class. Using clustering methods, we identify four groups: (i) the elderly and the inactive middle class, mainly composed of pensioners; (ii) the old middle class, composed of self-employed workers; (iii) the marginal middle class, composed of skilled and unskilled workers; and (iv) the new middle class, composed of highly educated wage earners in the public sector. We show that the different groups have distinctive features based on variables such as housing and household appliances and equipment.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée in its series Cahiers du GREThA with number 2013-19.
Date of creation: 2013
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social stratification; income distribution; middle class; urban China; clustering methods.;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- O53 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
- P25 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics
- P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty
- Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Social and Economic Stratification
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-09-25 (All new papers)
- NEP-LAM-2013-09-25 (Central & South America)
- NEP-LTV-2013-09-25 (Unemployment, Inequality & Poverty)
- NEP-NEU-2013-09-25 (Neuroeconomics)
- NEP-TRA-2013-09-25 (Transition Economics)
- NEP-URE-2013-09-25 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
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