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Decomposition of the increase in earnings inequality in urban China: A distributional approach

  • Chi, Wei
  • Li, Bo
  • Yu, Qiumei
Registered author(s):

This study examines changes in Chinese urban income distribution from 1987 to 1996 and 1996 to 2004 using nationwide household data and investigates the causes of these changes. The Firpo, Fortin, and Lemieux (2007, 2009) method based on unconditional quantile regressions is used to decompose changes in income distribution and income inequality measures, such as variance and a 10:90 ratio. The decomposition results show that wage structure effects, such as a widening gender earnings gap, increases in returns to college education, and increases in earnings differentials between industries, company ownership types, and regions, have been the major contributors to the overall increases in income inequality. It was also found that at different points on the income distribution (e.g., the lower or upper half), the contributing factors that increase income inequality are different.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal China Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 22 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (September)
Pages: 299-312

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Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:22:y:2011:i:3:p:299-312
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/chieco

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  1. Sergio Firpo & Nicole M. Fortin & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Unconditional Quantile Regressions," NBER Technical Working Papers 0339, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Stephen G. Donald & David A. Green & Harry J. Paarsch, 2000. "Differences in Wage Distributions Between Canada and the United States: An Application of a Flexible Estimator of Distribution Functions in the Presence of Covariates," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(4), pages 609-633.
  3. Gustafsson, Bjorn & Shi, Li, 2001. "The Anatomy of Rising Earnings Inequality in Urban China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 118-135, March.
  4. Omar Arias & Walter Sosa-Escudero & Kevin F. Hallock, 2001. "Individual heterogeneity in the returns to schooling: instrumental variables quantile regression using twins data," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 7-40.
  5. Knight, John B & Song, Lina, 1991. "The Determinants of Urban Income Inequality in China," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 53(2), pages 123-54, May.
  6. Appleton, Simon & Song, Lina & Xia, Qingjie, 2005. "Has China crossed the river? The evolution of wage structure in urban China during reform and retrenchment," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 644-663, December.
  7. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2005. "Rising Wage Inequality: The Role of Composition and Prices," NBER Working Papers 11628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. John Gibson & Jikun Huang & Scott Rozelle, 2002. "Improving Estimates of Inequality and Poverty From Urban China’s Household Income and Expenditure Survey," Working Papers in Economics 02/01, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  9. Xin Meng, 2004. "Economic Restructuring and Income Inequality in Urban China," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 50(3), pages 357-379, 09.
  10. Guanghua Wan & Zhangyue Zhou, 2005. "Income Inequality in Rural China: Regression-based Decomposition Using Household Data," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 107-120, 02.
  11. 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.
  12. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
  13. José Mata & José A. F. Machado, 2005. "Counterfactual decomposition of changes in wage distributions using quantile regression," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 20(4), pages 445-465.
  14. Jonathan Morduch & Terry Sicular, 2002. "Rethinking Inequality Decomposition, With Evidence from Rural China," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 93-106, January.
  15. Björn Gustafsson & Li Shi, 2001. "The effects of transition on the distribution of income in China," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 9(3), pages 593-617, November.
  16. Thomas Lemieux, 2002. "Decomposing changes in wage distributions: a unified approach," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 35(4), pages 646-688, November.
  17. Wan, Guanghua, 2004. "Accounting for income inequality in rural China: a regression-based approach," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 348-363, June.
  18. Björn Gustafsson & Shi Li, 2000. "Economic transformation and the gender earnings gap in urban China," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 13(2), pages 305-329.
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