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Explaining the Changes of Income Distribution in China

  • Lixin Colin Xu

    (Development Research Group, the World Bank)

  • Heng-fu Zou

    (Guanghua School of Management, Peking University
    Institute for Advanced Study, Wuhan University
    Development Research Group, the World Bank)

China has experienced one of the most remarkable increase in inequality over the last decade: the Gini coefficient increasing from 25.7 in 1984 to 37.8 in 1992. Using the recent developments in the theory of income distribution (Benerjee and Newman, 1993; Galor and Zeira, 1993) and a new panel data set about Chinese provincial-urban-level income inequality, this paper finds that inequality increased with the reduction of the share of state-owned enterprises in GDP, high inflation, growth, and (less significantly) the increasing exposure to foreign trade. We also find some evidence for the Director¡¯s Law: income redistribution tends to shift resources from the rich and the poor to the middle class. We do not find schooling and urbanization to be a significant explanatory factor.

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Paper provided by China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics in its series CEMA Working Papers with number 473.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in China Economic Review, Volume 11, Issue 2, December 2000, Pages 149-170
Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:473
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cema.cufe.edu.cn/

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  1. Jaume Ventura & Francesco Caselli, 2000. "A Representative Consumer Theory of Distribution," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 909-926, September.
  2. Benabou, R., 1996. "Inequality and Growth," Working Papers 96-22, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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  8. Rodrik, Dani & Alesina, Alberto, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," Scholarly Articles 4551798, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Greenwood, J. & Jovanovic, B., 1988. "Financial Development, Growth, And The Distribution Of Income," RCER Working Papers 131, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  10. Perotti, Roberto, 1993. "Political Equilibrium, Income Distribution, and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(4), pages 755-76, October.
  11. Stigler, George J, 1970. "Director's Law of Public Income Redistribution," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 1-10, April.
  12. Hongyi Li & Heng-fu Zou, 1998. "Income Inequality Is Not Harmful for Growth: Theory and Evidence," CEMA Working Papers 74, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  13. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  14. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  15. Chatterjee, Satyajit, 1994. "Transitional dynamics and the distribution of wealth in a neoclassical growth model," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 97-119, May.
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