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It is better to be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix: Concern for relative standing in rural China

  • Carlsson, Fredrik
  • Qin, Ping

This paper examines the concern for relative standing among rural households in China. We used a survey-experimental method to measure to what extent poor Chinese farmers care about their relative income. We found compared to previous studies in developed countries, the concern for relative standing seems to be equally strong among rural households in China. This should be seen in the light of the rapid change China has undergone, with high growth, and increased inequality. Thus, the rural population, which is lagging behind, is suffering not only from the low absolute income but also from low relative income.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

Volume (Year): 39 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 180-186

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Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:39:y:2010:i:2:p:180-186
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

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  1. Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi & Knight, John, 2007. "Community, comparisons and subjective well-being in a divided society," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 69-90, September.
  2. Olof Johansson-Stenman & Fredrik Carlsson & Dinky Daruvala, 2002. "Measuring Future Grandparents" Preferences for Equality and Relative Standing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 362-383, April.
  3. J. Solnick, Sara & Hemenway, David, 1998. "Is more always better?: A survey on positional concerns," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 373-383, November.
  4. KNIGHT, John & SONG, Lina & GUNATILAKA, Ramani, 2009. "Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 635-649, December.
  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. Fredrik Carlsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman & Peter Martinsson, 2007. "Do You Enjoy Having More than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 74(296), pages 586-598, November.
  7. McBride, Michael, 2001. "Relative-income effects on subjective well-being in the cross-section," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 251-278, July.
  8. Fredrik Carlsson & Gautam Gupta & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2009. "Keeping up with the Vaishyas? Caste and relative standing in India," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(1), pages 52-73, January.
  9. Solnick, Sara J. & Hong, Li & Hemenway, David, 2007. "Positional goods in the United States and China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 537-545, August.
  10. Fredrik Carlsson & Pham Khanh Nam & Martin Linde-Rahr & Peter Martinsson, 2007. "Are Vietnamese farmers concerned with their relative position in society?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(7), pages 1177-1188.
  11. Brown, Philip H. & Bulte, Erwin & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2011. "Positional spending and status seeking in rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(1), pages 139-149, September.
  12. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2005. "Who cares about relative deprivation ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3782, The World Bank.
  13. Andersson, Fredrik W., 2006. "Is Concern for Relative Consumption a Function of Relative Consumption?," Working Papers in Economics 220, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  14. Samuel Bowles, 1998. "Endogenous Preferences: The Cultural Consequences of Markets and Other Economic Institutions," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 75-111, March.
  15. Chang, Gene H., 2002. "The cause and cure of China's widening income disparity," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 335-340, December.
  16. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2001. "How Much Do We Care About Absolute Versus Relative Income and Consumption?," Working Papers in Economics 63, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  17. Markus Knell, . "Social Comparisons, Inequality, and Growth," IEW - Working Papers 005, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  18. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2004. "Honestly, why are you driving a BMW?," Working Papers in Economics 141, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
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