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A new approach to measuring and studying the characteristics of class membership: The progress of poverty, inequality and polarization of income classes in urban China

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Listed:
  • Gordon Anderson
  • Alessio Farcomeni
  • Grazia Pittau
  • Roberto Zelli

Abstract

Classifying agents into subgroups in order to measure the plight of the "poor", "middle class" or "rich" is common place in economics, unfortunately the definition of class boundaries is contentious and beset with problems. Here a technique based on mixture models is proposed for surmounting these problems by determining the number of classes in a population and estimating the probability that an agent belongs to a particular class. All of the familiar statistics for describing the classes remain available and the possibility of studying the determinants of class membership is raised. As a substantive illustration we analyze household income in Urban China in the last decade of the 20th Century. Four income groups are classified and the progress of those "poor", "lower middle", "upper middle" and "rich" classes are related to household and regional characteristics to study the impact of urbanization and the one child policy on class membership over the period.

Suggested Citation

  • Gordon Anderson & Alessio Farcomeni & Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli, 2014. "A new approach to measuring and studying the characteristics of class membership: The progress of poverty, inequality and polarization of income classes in urban China," Working Papers tecipa-521, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:tecipa-521
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anthony B. Atkinson & Andrea Brandolini, 2011. "On the identification of the “middle class”," Working Papers 217, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    2. Gordon Anderson & Oliver Linton & Teng Leo, 2012. "A polarization-cohesion perspective on cross-country convergence," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 49-69, March.
    3. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1994. "Economic distance and overlapping of distributions," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 147-159, March.
    4. Hills, John, 2002. "Following or leading public opinion? Social security policy and public attitudes since 1997," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4193, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    5. Maria Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli & Paul A. Johnson, 2010. "Mixture Models, Convergence Clubs, And Polarization," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(1), pages 102-122, March.
    6. Gong, Cathy Honge & Meng, Xin, 2008. "Regional Price Differences in Urban China 1986-2001: Estimation and Implication," IZA Discussion Papers 3621, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Anderson, Gordon & Leo, Teng Wah, 2013. "An empirical examination of matching theories: The one child policy, partner choice and matching intensity in urban China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 468-489.
    8. John Hills, 2002. "Following or Leading Public Opinion? Social Security Policy and Public Attitudes Since 1997," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 23(4), pages 539-558, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gordon Anderson & Thomas Fruehauf & Maria Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli, 2015. "Evaluating Progress Toward an Equal Opportunity Goal: Assessing the German Educational Reforms of the First Decade of the 21st Century," Working Papers tecipa-552, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    2. Maitra, Sudeshna, 2016. "The poor get poorer: Tracking relative poverty in India using a durables-based mixture model," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 110-120.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Poverty Frontiers; Mixture Models; Class membership; Urban China.;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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