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The Urban-Rural Income Gap and Inequality in China

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  • Sicular, Terry
  • Yue, Ximing
  • Gustafsson, Bjorn
  • Li, Shi

Abstract

Using new household survey data for 1995 and 2002, we investigate the size of China's urban-rural income gap, the gap's contribution to overall inequality in China, and the factors underlying the gap. Our analysis improves on past estimates by using a fuller measure of income, adjusting for spatial price differences and including migrants. Our methods include inequality decomposition by population subgroup and the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition. Several key findings emerge. First, the adjustments substantially reduce China's urban-rural income gap and its contribution to inequality. Nevertheless, the gap remains large and has increased somewhat over time. Second, after controlling for household characteristics, location of residence remains the most important factor underlying the urban-rural income gap. The only household characteristic that contributes substantially to the gap is education. Differences in the endowments of, and returns to, other household characteristics such as family size and composition, landholdings, and Communist Party membership are relatively unimportant. Copyright � 2007 The Authors; Journal compilation � International Association for Research in Income and Wealth 2007.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) in its series Working Paper Series with number RP2006/135.

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Length: 38 pages
Date of creation: 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:rp2006-135

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Keywords: China; urban-rural inequality; income;

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  1. Loren BRANDT & Carsten A HOLZ, 2005. "Spatial Price Differences in China: Estimates and Implications," Development and Comp Systems 0504010, EconWPA.
  2. Dennis Tao Yang & Hao Zhou, 1999. "Rural-urban disparity and sectoral labour allocation in China," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(3), pages 105-133.
  3. Anthony Shorrocks & Guanghua Wan, 2005. "Spatial decomposition of inequality," Journal of Economic Geography, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 59-81, January.
  4. Jonathan Morduch & Terry Sicular, 1998. "Politics, Growth and Inequality in Rural China: Does It Pay To Join the Party?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1832, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  5. Kanbur, Ravi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 1999. "Which Regional Inequality? The Evolution of Rural-Urban and Inland-Coastal Inequality in China from 1983 to 1995," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 686-701, December.
  6. Carlos Gradín & Olga Cantó & Coral del Río, 2008. "Inequality, poverty and mobility: Choosing income or consumption as welfare indicators," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 32(2), pages 169-200, May.
  7. Zhang, Xiaobo & Kanbur, Ravi, 2003. "Spatial Inequality In Education And Health Care In China," Working Papers 127256, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  8. Ronald L. Oaxaca & Michael R. Ransom, 1999. "Identification in Detailed Wage Decompositions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 154-157, February.
  9. David E. Sahn & David C. Stifel, 2003. "Urban--Rural Inequality in Living Standards in Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(4), pages 564-597, December.
  10. Zhang, Xiaobo & Fan, Shenggen, 2000. "Public investment and regional inequality in rural China:," EPTD discussion papers 71, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  11. Knight, John & Song, Lina, 1999. "The Rural-Urban Divide: Economic Disparities and Interactions in China," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293309, September.
  12. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1998. "Transient Poverty in Postreform Rural China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 338-357, June.
  13. Miles, David, 1997. "A Household Level Study of the Determinants of Incomes and Consumption," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(440), pages 1-25, January.
  14. Fan, Shenggen & Zhang, Linxiu & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2004. "Reforms, Investment, and Poverty in Rural China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(2), pages 395-421, January.
  15. X. B. Zhao & S. P. Tong, 2000. "Unequal Economic Development in China: Spatial Disparities and Regional Policy Reconsideration, 1985-1995," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(6), pages 549-561.
  16. Shorrocks, Anthony F, 1984. "Inequality Decomposition by Population Subgroups," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(6), pages 1369-85, November.
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