IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/taf/pocoec/v27y2015i1p41-59.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

In search of the elusive Chinese urban middle class: an exploratory analysis

Author

Listed:
  • Céline Bonnefond
  • Matthieu Clément
  • François Combarnous

Abstract

This article aims to identify and characterise the Chinese urban middle class. We propose to improve the description of the middle class using an innovative approach combining an economic approach (based on income) and a sociological approach (based on education and occupation). The empirical investigations conducted as part of this research are based on the China Health and Nutrition Survey (2009). First, we define the middle income class as households with an annual per capita income between 10,000 yuan and the 95th percentile. On this basis, approximately 50% of urban households may be said to belong to the middle class. Second, we use information on employment and education to characterise the heterogeneity of the middle income class. Using clustering methods, we identify four groups: (i) the elderly and the inactive middle class, mainly composed of pensioners; (ii) the old middle class, composed of self-employed workers; (iii) the marginal middle class, composed of skilled and unskilled workers; and (iv) the new middle class, composed of highly educated wage earners in the public sector. We show that the different groups have distinctive features based on variables such as housing and household appliances and equipment.

Suggested Citation

  • Céline Bonnefond & Matthieu Clément & François Combarnous, 2015. "In search of the elusive Chinese urban middle class: an exploratory analysis," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1), pages 41-59, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:pocoec:v:27:y:2015:i:1:p:41-59 DOI: 10.1080/14631377.2015.992223
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1080/14631377.2015.992223
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andreas Peichl & Thilo Schaefer & Christoph Scheicher, 2010. "Measuring Richness And Poverty: A Micro Data Application To Europe And Germany," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(3), pages 597-619, September.
    2. Kiminori Matsuyama, 2002. "The Rise of Mass Consumption Societies," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1035-1070, October.
    3. Francesca Castellani & Gwenn Parent, 2011. "Being “Middle-Class” in Latin America," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 305, OECD Publishing.
    4. Alesina, Alberto & Perotti, Roberto, 1996. "Income distribution, political instability, and investment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(6), pages 1203-1228, June.
    5. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer & Robert Vishny, 1989. "Income Distribution, Market Size, and Industrialization," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(3), pages 537-564.
    6. Mu, Ren & Du, Yang, 2012. "Pension Coverage for Parents and Educational Investment in Children: Evidence from Urban China," IZA Discussion Papers 6797, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:53:y:1959:i:01:p:69-105_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Milanovic, Branko & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Decomposing World Income Distribution: Does the World Have a Middle Class?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, pages 155-178.
    9. Esther Duflo & Abhijit Banerjee, 2008. "What is Middle Class About the Middle Classes Around the World?," Working Papers id:1363, eSocialSciences.
    10. Liu, Zhiqiang, 2005. "Institution and inequality: the hukou system in China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, pages 133-157.
    11. Ravallion, Martin, 2010. "The Developing World's Bulging (but Vulnerable) Middle Class," World Development, Elsevier, pages 445-454.
    12. Loayza, Norman & Rigolini, Jamele & Llorente, Gonzalo, 2012. "Do middle classes bring institutional reforms ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6015, The World Bank.
    13. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2008. "What Is Middle Class about the Middle Classes around the World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, pages 3-28.
    14. Jones-Smith, Jessica C. & Popkin, Barry M., 2010. "Understanding community context and adult health changes in China: Development of an urbanicity scale," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 1436-1446.
    15. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 2007. "China's (uneven) progress against poverty," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 1-42.
    16. Céline Bonnefond & Matthieu Clément, 2012. "An analysis of income polarisation in rural and urban China," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, pages 15-37.
    17. Walter Sosa Escudero & Sergio Petralia, 2010. "“I Can Hear the Grass Grow”: The Anatomy of Distributive Changes in Argentina," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0106, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    18. Coleman, Richard P, 1983. " The Continuing Significance of Social Class to Marketing," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 10(3), pages 265-280, December.
    19. Easterly, William, 2001. "The Middle Class Consensus and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 317-335, December.
    20. Perotti, Roberto & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," Scholarly Articles 4553018, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Levasseur, Pierre, 2015. "Causal effects of socioeconomic status on central adiposity risks: Evidence using panel data from urban Mexico," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 165-174.
    2. Bonnefond, Céline & Clément, Matthieu, 2014. "Social class and body weight among Chinese urban adults: The role of the middle classes in the nutrition transition," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 22-29.
    3. Céline BONNEFOND & Matthieu CLEMENT, 2015. "Does social class affect nutrition knowledge and food preferences among Chinese urban adults?," Working Papers 2014-2015_10, CATT - UPPA - Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour, revised Apr 2015.
    4. Levasseur, Pierre, 2015. "Causal effects of socioeconomic status on central adiposity risks: Evidence using panel data from urban Mexico," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, pages 165-174.
    5. LEVASSEUR Pierre, 2015. "Causal effects of socioeconomic status on central adiposity: Evidence using panel data from urban Mexico," Cahiers du GREThA 2015-09, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.
    6. Tsiry ANDRIANAMPIARIVO, 2014. "Moderate Prosperity, an adaptation of the Middle Class concept to a Malagasy rural area: the case of Itasy," Cahiers du GREThA 2014-20, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East
    • P25 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:pocoec:v:27:y:2015:i:1:p:41-59. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: http://www.tandfonline.com/CPCE20 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.