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China: Regional Disparities In Poverty Distribution


  • Chunli Shen

    (School of Public Policy, University of Maryland)

  • Heng-fu Zou

    (CEMA, Central University of Finance and Economics)


China's remarkable poverty alleviation is quite uneven across regions in the last quarter of the century. It is important to explore why China has such huge disparity in poverty distribution in spite of overall dramatic economic growth and the vast improvement in per capita income. The aim of this paper is to fill the literature gap by focusing exclusively on the issue of regional disparities in poverty distribution in China. It finds an increasing concentration of the rural poor in south-western provinces and the urban poor in northern China. Behind the scene, political choices and public polices, particularly barriers restricting the flow of labor, and fiscal rules that provides the disadvantaged population and regions less access to the fruits of division of labour, have a critical impact on how the effects of endowment and geography play out in the country's poverty distribution. In efforts to fight against skewed poverty concentration and build a harmonious society, further policy actions are required to promote agricultural development and off-farm employment, enhance infrastructure investment in poor regions, lower fiscal disparities and promote equitable public services provision, and address the regressive inter-governmental fiscal system.

Suggested Citation

  • Chunli Shen & Heng-fu Zou, 2006. "China: Regional Disparities In Poverty Distribution," CEMA Working Papers 252, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:252

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 1997. "What Can New Survey Data Tell Us about Recent Changes in Distribution and Poverty?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 11(2), pages 357-382, May.
    2. Ravi Kanbur & Xiaobo Zhang, 2005. "Fifty Years of Regional Inequality in China: a Journey Through Central Planning, Reform, and Openness," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 87-106, February.
    3. Shi, Li, 2001. "Changes in Poverty Profile in China," WIDER Working Paper Series 021, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Spatial poverty traps?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1862, The World Bank.
    5. Khan, Azizur Rahman & Riskin, Carl, 2001. "Inequality and Poverty in China in the Age of Globalization," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195136494, June.
    6. World Bank, 2001. "China : Overcoming Rural Poverty," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13902.
    7. World Bank, 2003. "China - Promoting Growth with Equity : Country Economic Memorandum," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14643, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chunli Shen & Jing Jin & Heng-fu Zou, 2012. "Fiscal Decentralization in China: History, Impact, Challenges and Next Steps," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 13(1), pages 1-51, May.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C62 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Existence and Stability Conditions of Equilibrium
    • D - Microeconomics
    • E1 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models
    • F - International Economics
    • F11 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Neoclassical Models of Trade
    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • L - Industrial Organization
    • O - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth


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