IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hal/pseptp/halshs-02301313.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Capital Accumulation, Private Property, and Rising Inequality in China, 1978–2015

Author

Listed:
  • Thomas Piketty

    (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement)

  • Li Yang

    (Beijing University of Agriculture)

  • Gabriel Zucman

    (Department of Mathematics [Berkeley] - University of California [Berkeley] - University of California)

Abstract

We combine national accounts, surveys, and new tax data to study the accumulation and distribution of income and wealth in China from 1978 to 2015. The national wealth-income ratio increased from 350 percent in 1978 to 700 percent in 2015, while the share of public property in national wealth declined from 70 percent to 30 percent. We provide sharp upward revision of official inequality estimates. The top 10 percent income share rose from 27 percent to 41 percent between 1978 and 2015; the bottom 50 percent share dropped from 27 percent to 15 percent. China's inequality levels used to be close to Nordic countries and are now approaching US levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Piketty & Li Yang & Gabriel Zucman, 2019. "Capital Accumulation, Private Property, and Rising Inequality in China, 1978–2015," PSE-Ecole d'économie de Paris (Postprint) halshs-02301313, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:pseptp:halshs-02301313
    DOI: 10.1257/aer.20170973
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02301313
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Brandt,Loren & Rawski,Thomas G. (ed.), 2008. "China's Great Economic Transformation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521885577.
    2. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2016. "Appendix to "Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States"," Working Papers 201604, World Inequality Lab.
    3. Garbinti, Bertrand & Goupille-Lebret, Jonathan & Piketty, Thomas, 2018. "Income inequality in France, 1900–2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts (DINA)," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 63-77.
    4. Gustafsson,Björn A. & Shi,Li & Sicular,Terry (ed.), 2008. "Inequality and Public Policy in China," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521870450.
    5. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "Appendix to "Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts"," Working Papers 201705, World Inequality Lab.
    6. Chi, Wei & Li, Bo & Yu, Qiumei, 2011. "Decomposition of the increase in earnings inequality in urban China: A distributional approach," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 299-312, September.
    7. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2018. "Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 133(2), pages 553-609.
    8. Kanbur, Ravi & Wang, Yue & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2021. "The great Chinese inequality turnaround," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 467-482.
    9. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2016. "Accounting for Wealth Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates and Simulations for France (1800-2014)," PSE Working Papers halshs-02794339, HAL.
    10. John Knight & LI Shi & WAN Haiyuan, 2016. "The Increasing Inequality of Wealth in China, 2002-2013," Economics Series Working Papers 816, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    11. Gabriel Zucman, 2014. "Taxing across Borders: Tracking Personal Wealth and Corporate Profits," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(4), pages 121-148, Fall.
    12. Thomas Blanchet & Juliette Fournier & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "Generalized Pareto Curves : Theory and Applications," Working Papers halshs-02658851, HAL.
    13. Holz, Carsten A., 2006. "New capital estimates for China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 142-185.
    14. repec:wyi:journl:002165 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Chi, Wei, 2012. "Capital income and income inequality: Evidence from urban China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 228-239.
    16. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts," Working Papers halshs-02658875, HAL.
    17. Brandt,Loren & Rawski,Thomas G. (ed.), 2008. "China's Great Economic Transformation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521712903.
    18. John Knight, 2014. "Inequality in China: An Overview," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 29(1), pages 1-19.
    19. Rawski, Thomas G., 2001. "What is happening to China's GDP statistics?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 347-354.
    20. Han, Jun & Liu, Runjuan & Zhang, Junsen, 2012. "Globalization and wage inequality: Evidence from urban China," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(2), pages 288-297.
    21. Wing Thye Woo, "undated". "Chinese Economic Growth: Sources And Prospects," Department of Economics 96-08, California Davis - Department of Economics.
    22. Angus Maddison, 2009. "Measuring The Economic Performance Of Transition Economies: Some Lessons From Chinese Experience," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 55(s1), pages 423-441, July.
    23. Holz, Carsten A., 2014. "The quality of China's GDP statistics," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 309-338.
    24. Dwayne Benjamin & Loren Brandt & John Giles & Sangui Wang, 2005. "Income Inequality During China's Economic Transition," Working Papers tecipa-238, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    25. Wu, Harry X., 2011. "The Real Growth of Chinese Industry Debate Revisited--Reconstructing China's Industrial GDP in 1949-2008--," Economic Review, Hitotsubashi University, vol. 62(3), pages 209-224, July.
    26. Gregory C. Chow, 1993. "Capital Formation and Economic Growth in China," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 809-842.
    27. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 2007. "China's (uneven) progress against poverty," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 1-42, January.
    28. Holz, Carsten A., 2006. "Response to Gregory C. Chow's "New Capital Estimates for China: Comments"," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 193-197.
    29. Andreas (Andy) Jobst & Harry X. Wu, 2008. "Measuring China’s Economic Performance," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 9(2), pages 13-44, April.
    30. Zan Yang & Jie Chen, 2014. "Housing Affordability and Housing Policy in Urban China," SpringerBriefs in Economics, Springer, edition 127, number 978-3-642-54044-8, December.
    31. Harry X. Wu, 2002. "How Fast Has Chinese Industry Grown?—Measuring The Real Output Of Chinese Industry, 1949–97," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 48(2), pages 179-204, June.
    32. Alwyn Young, 2003. "Gold into Base Metals: Productivity Growth in the People's Republic of China during the Reform Period," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1220-1261, December.
    33. Lena Edlund & Hongbin Li & Junjian Yi & Junsen Zhang, 2013. "Sex Ratios and Crime: Evidence from China," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(5), pages 1520-1534, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Thomas Piketty & Li Yang & Gabriel Zucman, 2017. "Appendix to "Capital Accumulation, Private Property and Rising Inequality in China, 1978-2015"," Working Papers 201707, World Inequality Lab.
    2. Facundo Alvaredo & Lydia Assouad & Thomas Piketty, 2019. "Measuring lnequality in the Middle East 1990–2016: The World’s Most Unequal Region?," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 65(4), pages 685-711, December.
    3. Thomas Blanchet & Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Clara Martínez-Toledano, 2018. "Applying Generalized Pareto Curves to Inequality Analysis," AEA Papers and Proceedings, American Economic Association, vol. 108, pages 114-118, May.
    4. Pawel Bukowski & Filip Novokmet, 2018. "Inequality in Poland: Estimating the whole distribution by g-percentile 1983-2015," LIS Working papers 731, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    5. Garbinti, Bertrand & Goupille-Lebret, Jonathan & Piketty, Thomas, 2018. "Income inequality in France, 1900–2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts (DINA)," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 63-77.
    6. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "Income Inequality in France, 1900-2014: Evidence from Distributional National Accounts," Working Papers 201704, World Inequality Lab.
    7. Filip Novokmet & Thomas Piketty & Gabriel Zucman, 2018. "From Soviets to oligarchs: inequality and property in Russia 1905-2016," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 16(2), pages 189-223, June.
    8. Li, Kui-Wai & Liu, Tung, 2011. "Economic and productivity growth decomposition: An application to post-reform China," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(1-2), pages 366-373, January.
    9. Thomas Blanchet & Juliette Fournier & Thomas Piketty, 2017. "Generalized Pareto Curves : Theory and Applications," Working Papers 201703, World Inequality Lab.
    10. Nora Lustig, 2018. "Measuring the Distribution of Household Income, Consumption and Wealth: State of Play and Measurement Challenges," Working Papers 1801, Tulane University, Department of Economics.
    11. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2016. "Accounting for Wealth Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates and Simulations for France (1800-2014)," World Inequality Lab Working Papers halshs-02794339, HAL.
    12. Zhou, Yixiao & Tyers, Rod, 2019. "Automation and inequality in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C).
    13. Annette Alstadsæter & Niels Johannesen & Gabriel Zucman, 2019. "Tax Evasion and Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 109(6), pages 2073-2103, June.
    14. Kerola, Eeva, 2018. "In search of fluctuations : Another look at China’s incredibly stable GDP growth," BOFIT Discussion Papers 23/2018, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    15. WU, Jidong & LI, Ning & SHI, Peijun, 2014. "Benchmark wealth capital stock estimations across China's 344 prefectures: 1978 to 2012," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 288-302.
    16. Kanbur, Ravi & Wang, Yue & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2021. "The great Chinese inequality turnaround," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 467-482.
    17. Simon Alder & Lin Shao & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2016. "Economic reforms and industrial policy in a panel of Chinese cities," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(4), pages 305-349, December.
    18. Nora Lustig, 2020. "The ``missing rich'' in household surveys: causes and correction approaches," Working Papers 520, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    19. Simon Alder & Lin Shao & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2012. "The Effect of Economic Reform and Industrial Policy in a Panel of Chinese Cities," DEGIT Conference Papers c017_061, DEGIT, Dynamics, Economic Growth, and International Trade.
    20. Alstadsæter, Annette & Johannesen, Niels & Zucman, Gabriel, 2018. "Who owns the wealth in tax havens? Macro evidence and implications for global inequality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 89-100.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts
    • E23 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Production
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P24 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - National Income, Product, and Expenditure; Money; Inflation
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

    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:hal:pseptp:halshs-02301313. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/ .

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Caroline Bauer (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/ .

    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.