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A new approach to measuring and studying the characteristics of class membership: Examining poverty, inequality and polarization in urban China

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  • Anderson, Gordon
  • Farcomeni, Alessio
  • Pittau, Maria Grazia
  • Zelli, Roberto

Abstract

Classifying agents into subgroups in order to measure the plight of the “poor”, “middle class” or “rich” is common place in economics, unfortunately the definition of class boundaries is contentious and beset with problems. Here a technique based on mixture models is proposed for surmounting these problems by determining the number of classes in a population and estimating the probability that an agent belongs to a particular class. All of the familiar statistics for describing the classes remain available and the possibility of studying the correlates of class membership is raised. As a substantive illustration we analyze household income in Urban China in the last decade of the 20th Century. Four income groups are classified and the progress of those “poor”, “lower middle”, “upper middle” and “rich” classes are related to household and regional characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Anderson, Gordon & Farcomeni, Alessio & Pittau, Maria Grazia & Zelli, Roberto, 2016. "A new approach to measuring and studying the characteristics of class membership: Examining poverty, inequality and polarization in urban China," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 191(2), pages 348-359.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:econom:v:191:y:2016:i:2:p:348-359
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeconom.2015.12.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Gordon Anderson & Maria Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli, 2016. "Assessing the convergence and mobility of nations without artificially specified class boundaries," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 283-304, September.
    2. Gordon Anderson & Tongtong Hao & Maria Grazia Pittau, 2016. "Income Inequality, Family Formation and Generational Mobility in Urban China," Working Papers tecipa-563, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Poverty frontiers; Mixture models; Class membership; Urban China;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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