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The Decline of In-kind Wage Payments in Urban China

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  • Shi Li
  • Yaohui Zhao

Abstract

Chinese collective and state-owned enterprises have tended to over-compensate their employees. Using payments in kind as an example, this paper examines why and how firms engage in such 'irrational' behavior. In-kind payments (payments made in terms of consumer goods) used to be an important aspect of urban life in China - 68% of our sample workers received payments in kind in 1988. The ratio declined to only 10% in 1999. In explaining the prevalence of in-kind payment in the 1980s and the subsequent decline in the 1990s, two hypotheses are proposed. The first is the lack of access to consumer goods by individuals. The second is to evade the control on wage bills imposed by the government. Empirical evidence from an urban household survey is consistent with the second hypothesis. The results imply that the introduction of a hard budget constraint is essential to ensure the rational behavior of public enterprises in setting their wage payments.

Suggested Citation

  • Shi Li & Yaohui Zhao, 2003. "The Decline of In-kind Wage Payments in Urban China," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 245-258.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jocebs:v:1:y:2003:i:2:p:245-258
    DOI: 10.1080/1476528032000066703
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Woodbury, Stephen A, 1983. "Substitution between Wage and Nonwage Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(1), pages 166-182, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yu CHEN & Sylvie DEMURGER & Martin FOURNIER, 2003. "Wage Differentials and Ownership Structure in Chinese Enterprises," Working Papers 200320, CERDI.
    2. Gustafsson, Björn & LI, Shi & Sato, Hiroshi, 2014. "Data for studying earnings, the distribution of household income and poverty in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 419-431.

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