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Inequality of Opportunity and Income Inequality in Nine Chinese Provinces, 1989-2006

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Listed:
  • Zhang, Yingqiang

    (Beijing Jiaotong University)

  • Eriksson, Tor

    () (Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business)

Abstract

While there is a large and growing body of research describing and analyzing changes in the Chinese income distribution, researchers have paid considerable less attention to inequality of opportunity. The aim of this paper is to contribute to filling this gap in the literature. The two main questions addressed empirically for the first time in a Chinese context are: To what extent are individuals’ incomes and individual income differences due to factors beyond the individual’s control (in Roemer’s terminology “circumstances”) and to what extent are they due to outcomes of the individual’s own choices (“effort”). What is the relationship between income inequality and inequality of opportunity? For this purpose we use data from the China Health and Nutrition Survey collected from nine provinces during the period 1989 to 2006. The CHNS has detailed information about incomes and other factors enabling us to construct a host of circumstance and effort variables for the offspring. We find that China has a substantial degree of inequality of opportunity. Parental income and parents’ type of employer explain about two thirds of the total inequality of opportunity. Notably, parental education plays only a minor role implying that parental connections remain important. The results show that the increase in income inequality during the period under study largely mirrors the increase in inequality of opportunity. Thus, increased income inequality does not reflect changes in effort variables, or expressed differently, increased income inequality has not been accompanied by a decrease in inequality of opportunity

Suggested Citation

  • Zhang, Yingqiang & Eriksson, Tor, 2009. "Inequality of Opportunity and Income Inequality in Nine Chinese Provinces, 1989-2006," Working Papers 09-18, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:aareco:2009_018
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Yang Song & Guangsu Zhou, 2017. "Inequality of opportunity and household education expenditures: Evidence from panel data in China," Working Papers 439, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    2. Brunori, Paolo & Ferreira, Francisco H. G. & Peragine, Vito, 2013. "Inequality of opportunity, income inequality and economic mobility : some international comparisons," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6304, The World Bank.
    3. Qin, Xuezheng & Hsieh, Chee-Ruey, 2014. "Economic growth and the geographic maldistribution of health care resources: Evidence from China, 1949-2010," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 228-246.
    4. Yi Chen & Frank A. Cowell, 2017. "Mobility in China," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 63(2), pages 203-218, June.
    5. repec:eee:chieco:v:44:y:2017:i:c:p:112-124 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Eriksson, Tor & Pan, Jay & Qin, Xuezheng, 2014. "The intergenerational inequality of health in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 392-409.
    7. Du, Zaichao & LI, Renyu & He, Qinying & ZHANG, Lin, 2014. "Decomposing the rich dad effect on income inequality using instrumental variable quantile regression," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 379-391.
    8. Qin, Xuezheng & Wang, Tianyu & Zhuang, Castiel Chen, 2016. "Intergenerational transfer of human capital and its impact on income mobility: Evidence from China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 306-321.
    9. Xiaobing Wang & Jenifer Piesse & Nick Weaver, 2013. "Mind the gaps: a political economy of the multiple dimensions of China's rural–urban divide," Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, Asia Pacific School of Economics and Government, The Australian National University, vol. 27(2), pages 52-67, November.
    10. Chen, Anping & Groenewold, Nicolaas, 2013. "Does investment allocation affect the inter-regional output gap in China? A time-series investigation," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(C), pages 197-206.
    11. Lauri Peterson, 2014. "The Measurement of Non-economic Inequality in Well-Being Indices," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 119(2), pages 581-598, November.
    12. Sun, Jiawei & Ma, Chao & Song, Ze & Gu, Hai, 2013. "Inequality of Opportunity in Health Care in China: Suggestion on the Construction of the Urban-Rural Integrated Medical Insurance System," MPRA Paper 49389, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. FAN, Yi, 2016. "Intergenerational income persistence and transmission mechanism: Evidence from urban China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 299-314.
    14. Bevis, Leah E.M. & Barrett, Christopher B., 2015. "Decomposing Intergenerational Income Elasticity: The Gender-differentiated Contribution of Capital Transmission in Rural Philippines," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 233-252.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Inequality of opportunity; Income inequality; China;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J62 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Job, Occupational and Intergenerational Mobility; Promotion

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