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Why is inequality higher among the old? Evidence from China

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  • Hanewald, Katja
  • Jia, Ruo
  • Liu, Zining

Abstract

This paper studies income inequality in old age and its development over the life cycle. We show that income is more unequally distributed in old age than in working age. We combine the regression-based inequality decomposition method and the three-step mediating effect test to analyze the transmission of income inequality from initial socioeconomic differences to income inequality in old age. Our study is based on a panel of over 4000 old households from the China Health and Nutrition Survey during 1991–2015. We find that the urban-rural gap and educational inequality are the primary causes of old-age income inequality. The effect of the urban-rural gap is partially mediated by educational inequality. Inequality accumulates with age and is reinforced in old age by the fragmented Chinese public pension system.

Suggested Citation

  • Hanewald, Katja & Jia, Ruo & Liu, Zining, 2021. "Why is inequality higher among the old? Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:chieco:v:66:y:2021:i:c:s1043951x21000109
    DOI: 10.1016/j.chieco.2021.101592
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality; Decomposition; Urban-rural gap; Pensions; China;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions
    • J26 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Retirement; Retirement Policies
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

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