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When economic reform is faster than statistical reform - measuring and explaining inequality in rural China

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Author Info

  • Ravallion, Martin
  • Shaohua Chen

Abstract

Official tabulations from household survey data suggest rising income inequality in post-reform rural China, a trend of public concern. But the structural changes in China's rural economy have not been properly reflected in the methods used to process raw survey data. Using micro data from four provinces, the authors find that two-thirds of the conventionally measured increase in inequality in 1985-90 vanishes when market-based valuation methods are used and allowances are made for regional cost-of-living differences. The data revisions also suggest somewhat different explanations for rising inequality. Nonfarm income was secondary to grain production. While access to farm land was relatively equal, higher returns to land over time were inequality-increasing. But holding other factors constant, lower returns to physical capital reduced inequality over time, as did private transfers.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 1902.

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Date of creation: 31 Mar 1998
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:1902

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Related research

Keywords: Economic Theory&Research; Poverty Impact Evaluation; Services&Transfers to Poor; Environmental Economics&Policies; Labor Policies; Services&Transfers to Poor; Rural Poverty Reduction; Inequality; Poverty Impact Evaluation; Safety Nets and Transfers;

References

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  1. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 1997. "What Can New Survey Data Tell Us about Recent Changes in Distribution and Poverty?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 11(2), pages 357-82, May.
  2. Knight, John & Song, Lina, 1993. "The Spatial Contribution to Income Inequality in Rural China," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 195-213, June.
  3. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Spatial poverty traps?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1862, The World Bank.
  4. Khan, Azizur Rahman & Griffin, Keith & Riskin, Carl & Renwei, Zhao, 1993. "Sources of income inequality in post-reform China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 19-35.
  5. Lanjouw, Peter & Ravallion, Martin, 1995. "Poverty and Household Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(433), pages 1415-34, November.
  6. Cowell, Frank A & Victoria-Feser, Maria-Pia, 1996. "Robustness Properties of Inequality Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(1), pages 77-101, January.
  7. Lipton, Michael & Ravallion, Martin, 1993. "Poverty and policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1130, The World Bank.
  8. Chen, Shaohua & Ravallion, Martin, 1996. "Data in transition: Assessing rural living standards in Southern China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 23-56.
  9. Shorrocks, A F, 1982. "Inequality Decomposition by Factor Components," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 193-211, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Zhu, Nong & Luo, Xubei, 2006. "Nonfarm activity and rural income inequality : a case study of two provinces in China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3811, The World Bank.
  2. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 2003. "Measuring pro-poor growth," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 93-99, January.
  3. Chaudhuri, Shubham & Ravallion, Martin, 2006. "Partially awakened giants : uneven growth in China and India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4069, The World Bank.
  4. Fan, Shenggen & Chan-Kang, Connie, 2005. "Road development, economic growth, and poverty reduction in China:," Research reports 138, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  5. Benjamin, Dwayne & Brandt, Loren & Giles, John, 2005. "The Evolution of Income Inequality in Rural China," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(4), pages 769-824, July.
  6. Heshmati, Almas, 2004. "Regional Income Inequality in Selected Large Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 1307, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Are the poor less well insured? Evidence on vulnerability to income risk in rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 61-81, February.
  8. Zhu, Nong & Luo, Xubei, 2008. "The impact of remittances on rural poverty and inequality in China," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4637, The World Bank.

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