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 - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - 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, PJSE - Paris Jourdan Sciences Economiques - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - ENS-PSL - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris Sciences et Lettres - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Li Yang

    (Beijing University of Agriculture)

  • Gabriel Zucman

    (Department of Mathematics [Berkeley] - UC Berkeley - University of California [Berkeley] - UC - 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
    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. Barry Naughton, 2017. "Is China Socialist?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 3-24, Winter.
    2. Facundo Alvaredo & Anthony Atkinson & Lucas Chancel & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2016. "Distributional National Accounts (DINA) Guidelines : Concepts and Methods used in WID.world," Working Papers halshs-02794308, HAL.
    3. Brandt,Loren & Rawski,Thomas G. (ed.), 2008. "China's Great Economic Transformation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521885577, November.
    4. 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.
    5. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Zheng (Michael) Song, 2015. "Grasp the Large, Let Go of the Small: The Transformation of the State Sector in China," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 50(1 (Spring), pages 295-366.
    6. Gustafsson,Björn A. & Shi,Li & Sicular,Terry (ed.), 2008. "Inequality and Public Policy in China," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521870450, November.
    7. Meng, Xin & Shen, Kailing & Xue, Sen, 2013. "Economic reform, education expansion, and earnings inequality for urban males in China, 1988–2009," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 227-244.
    8. 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.
    9. Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2018. "Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 133(2), pages 553-609.
    10. Kanbur, Ravi & Wang, Yue & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2021. "The great Chinese inequality turnaround," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 467-482.
    11. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Zheng (Michael) Song, 2015. "Grasp the Large, Let Go of the Small: The Transformation of the State Sector in China," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 46(1 (Spring), pages 295-366.
    12. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 2016. "Accounting for Wealth Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates and Simulations for France (1800-2014)," Working Papers halshs-02794339, HAL.
    13. Thomas Piketty & Gabriel Zucman, 2014. "Capital is Back: Wealth-Income Ratios in Rich Countries 1700–2010," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 129(3), pages 1255-1310.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. Thomas Blanchet & Juliette Fournier & Thomas Piketty, 2022. "Generalized Pareto Curves: Theory and Applications," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 68(1), pages 263-288, March.
    17. Holz, Carsten A., 2006. "New capital estimates for China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 142-185.
    18. repec:wyi:journl:002165 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Chi, Wei, 2012. "Capital income and income inequality: Evidence from urban China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 228-239.
    20. Brandt,Loren & Rawski,Thomas G. (ed.), 2008. "China's Great Economic Transformation," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521712903, November.
    21. John Knight, 2014. "Inequality in China: An Overview," The World Bank Research Observer, World Bank, vol. 29(1), pages 1-19.
    22. Rawski, Thomas G., 2001. "What is happening to China's GDP statistics?," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 12(4), pages 347-354.
    23. 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.
    24. Wing Thye Woo, "undated". "Chinese Economic Growth: Sources And Prospects," Department of Economics 96-08, California Davis - Department of Economics.
    25. 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.
    26. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret & Thomas Piketty, 0. "Accounting for Wealth-Inequality Dynamics: Methods, Estimates, and Simulations for France," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 620-663.
    27. Holz, Carsten A., 2014. "The quality of China's GDP statistics," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 309-338.
    28. 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.
    29. 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.
    30. Li Gan & Zhichao Yin & Nan Jia & Shu Xu & Shuang Ma & Lu Zheng, 2014. "Data you need to know about China," Springer Books, Springer, edition 127, number 978-3-642-38151-5, June.
    31. Li,Shi & Sato,Hiroshi & Sicular,Terry (ed.), 2013. "Rising Inequality in China," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781107002913, November.
    32. Gregory C. Chow, 1993. "Capital Formation and Economic Growth in China," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 108(3), pages 809-842.
    33. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 2007. "China's (uneven) progress against poverty," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 1-42, January.
    34. 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.
    35. 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.
    36. 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, March.
    37. 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.
    38. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Zheng (Michael) Song, 2015. "Grasp the Large, Let Go of the Small: The Transformation of the State Sector in China," NBER Working Papers 21006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    39. 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.
    40. 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"," PSE Working Papers halshs-02659212, HAL.
    2. 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.
    3. Gabriel Zucman, 2019. "Global Wealth Inequality," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 11(1), pages 109-138, August.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Kanbur, Ravi & Wang, Yue & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2021. "The great Chinese inequality turnaround," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(2), pages 467-482.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Piketty, Thomas & Alvaredo, Facundo & Assouad, Lydia, 2017. "Measuring inequality in the Middle East 1990-2016: The World’s Most Unequal Region?," CEPR Discussion Papers 12405, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. John Knight & Sai Ding, 2008. "Why has China Grown so Fast? The Role of Structural Change," Economics Series Working Papers 415, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    12. Zhou, Yixiao & Tyers, Rod, 2019. "Automation and inequality in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C).
    13. Bertrand Garbinti & Jonathan Goupille-Lebret, 2019. "Inégalités de revenus et de richesse en France : évolutions et liens sur longue période," Working Papers halshs-02401482, HAL.
    14. Li, Kui-Wai & Liu, Tung, 2011. "Economic and productivity growth decomposition: An application to post-reform China," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 366-373.
    15. 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.
    16. Facundo Alvaredo & Lucas Chancel & Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez & Gabriel Zucman, 2017. "Global Inequality Dynamics: New Findings from WID.world," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(5), pages 404-409, May.
    17. Thilo N. H. Albers & Charlotte Bartels & Moritz Schularick, 2020. "The Distribution of Wealth in Germany, 1895-2018," ECONtribute Policy Brief Series 001, University of Bonn and University of Cologne, Germany.
    18. Li, Wencong & Yang, Xingquan & Yin, Xingqiang, 2022. "Non-state shareholders entering of state-owned enterprises and equity mispricing: Evidence from China," International Review of Financial Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 84(C).
    19. Clara Martínez Toledano, 2017. "House Price Cycles, Wealth Inequality and Portfolio Reshuffling," PSE Working Papers halshs-02797549, HAL.
    20. Lieberknecht, Philipp & Vermeulen, Philip, 2018. "Inequality and relative saving rates at the top," Working Paper Series 2204, European Central Bank.

    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 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist and Transition Economies - - - National Income, Product, and Expenditure; Money; Inflation
    • P26 - Political Economy and Comparative Economic Systems - - Socialist and Transition Economies - - - Property Rights
    • P36 - Political Economy and Comparative 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.

    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. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.