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Globalization and the Urban Poor in China

  • Yin Zhang
  • Guanghua Wan

This paper examines the distributional impact of globalization on the poor in urban China. Employing the kernel density estimation technique, we recovered from irregularly grouped household survey data the income distributions of 29 Chinese provinces for 1988–2001. Panels of the income shares of the poorest 20, 10 and 5 per cent of the urban residents were then compiled. In a fixed-effect model, two of the central conclusions of Dollar and Kraay (2002) – that ‘the incomes of the poor rise equi-proportionately with average income’ and that trade openness has little distributional effect on poverty – were revisited. Our results lend little support to either of the Dollar-Kraay conclusions, but instead indicate that average income growth is associated with worsening income distribution while globalization in general, and trade openness in particular, raises the income shares of the poor. It is also found that openness to trade and openness to FDI have differential distributional effects. The beneficial effect of trade was not restricted to the coastal provinces, but weakened significantly after 1992. These findings are robust to allowing for nonlinearity in the effect of globalization and to controlling for the influence of several other variables.

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Paper provided by Economic Studies, University of Dundee in its series Dundee Discussion Papers in Economics with number 196.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dun:dpaper:196
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  1. Sylvie DEMURGER & SACHS & Wing Thye WOO & BAO & CHANG & MELLINGER, 2001. "Geography, Economic Policy and Regional Development in China," Working Papers 200109, CERDI.
  2. Wan, Guanghua & Lu, Ming & Chen, Zhao, 2004. "Globalization and Regional Income Inequality: Evidence from within China," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  3. Dollar, David & Kraay, Aart, 2001. "Growth is good for the poor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2587, The World Bank.
  4. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2001. "The disturbing 'rise' of global income inequality," Economics Working Papers 616, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Apr 2002.
  5. Jordi Galí & Tommaso Monacelli, 2004. "Monetary policy and exchange rate volatility in a small open economy," Economics Working Papers 835, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  6. Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "Growth, Inequality and Poverty: Looking Beyond Averages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1803-1815, November.
  7. Loren Brandt & Carsten A. Holz, 2006. "Spatial Price Differences in China: Estimates and Implications," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 43-86.
  8. Spilimbergo, Antonio & Londono, Juan Luis & Szekely, Miguel, 1999. "Income distribution, factor endowments, and trade openness," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 59(1), pages 77-101, June.
  9. Easterly, William & Fischer, Stanley, 2001. "Inflation and the Poor," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(2), pages 160-78, May.
  10. Ravallion, Martin, 2006. "Looking beyond averages in the trade and poverty debate," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(8), pages 1374-1392, August.
  11. Keith Griffin & Azizur Rahman Khan & Carl Riskin, 1999. "Income Distribution in Urban China during the Period of Economic Reform and Globalization," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 296-300, May.
  12. Branko Milanovic, 2003. "The Ricardian Vice: Why Sala-i-Martin’s calculations of world income inequality are wrong," HEW 0305003, EconWPA.
  13. Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "Inequality convergence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2645, The World Bank.
  14. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Inequality, Growth, and Investment," NBER Working Papers 7038, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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