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Rising Regional Inequality in China: Fact or Artefact?

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  • Chao Li

    ()
    (University of Waikato)

  • John Gibson

    ()
    (University of Waikato)

Abstract

China’s local populations can be counted in two ways; by how many people have hukou household registration from each place and by how many people actually reside in each place. The counts differ by the non-hukou migrants – people that move from their place of registration – who have grown from fewer than five million when reform began in 1978 to over 200 million by 2010. For most of the first three decades of the reform era, the hukou count was used to produce per capita GDP figures. In coastal provinces the resident count is many millions more than the hukou count, while for migrant-sending provinces it is the reverse, creating a systematic and time-varying distortion in provincial GDP per capita. Moreover, a sharp discontinuity occurred when provinces recently switched from the hukou count to the resident count when reporting GDP per capita. A double-count also resulted because some provinces switched before others and initial resident counts were incomplete. This paper describes the changing definition of provincial populations in China and their impact on inequality in provincial GDP per capita. We show that much of the apparent increase in inter-provincial inequality disappears once a consistent series of GDP per resident is used.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Waikato, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 12/09.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: 18 Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wai:econwp:12/09

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Keywords: inequality; growth; regional development; population; China;

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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Rising regional inequality in China: fact or artefact?
    by John Gibson in East Asia Forum on 2012-08-12 12:00:23
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Cited by:
  1. Chao Li & John Gibson, 2013. "Spatial Price Differences and Inequality in China: Housing Market Evidence," Working Papers in Economics, University of Waikato, Department of Economics 13/06, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  2. Shi, Hao & Huang, Shaoqing, 2014. "How Much Infrastructure Is Too Much? A New Approach and Evidence from China," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 272-286.
  3. Knight, John, 2013. "Inequality in China : an overview," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6482, The World Bank.

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