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The Great Chinese Inequality Turnaround


  • Kanbur, Ravi

    () (Cornell University)

  • Wang, Yue

    () (Cornell University)

  • Zhang, Xiaobo

    () (Peking University)


This paper argues that after a quarter century of sharp and sustained increase, Chinese inequality is now plateauing and even turning down. The argument is made using a range of data sources and a range of measures and perspectives on inequality. The evolution of inequality is further examined through decomposition by income source and population subgroups. Preliminary explanations are provided for these trends in terms of shifts in policy and structural transformation of the Chinese economy. The narrative on Chinese inequality now needs to focus on the reasons for this great turnaround.

Suggested Citation

  • Kanbur, Ravi & Wang, Yue & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2017. "The Great Chinese Inequality Turnaround," IZA Discussion Papers 10635, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10635

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Thomas Piketty & Li Yang & Gabriel Zucman, 2017. "Capital Accumulation, Private Property and Rising Inequality in China, 1978-2015," NBER Working Papers 23368, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Shu-gang Li & Hai-qing Shuang & Hong-sheng Wang & Ki-Il Song & Lang Liu, 2017. "Extraction of Pressurized Gas in Low Air-Conductivity Coal Seam Using Drainage Roadway," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(2), pages 1-11, February.
    3. repec:eee:chieco:v:46:y:2017:i:c:p:208-228 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:9:p:1502-:d:109561 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    Chinese inequality turnaround; inequality data; inequality trends; inequality and structural transformation; harmonious development and government policy;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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