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Regional Inequality in China allowing for Spatial Cost-of-Living Differences: Evidence from a Hedonic Analysis of Apartment Prices

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Abstract

Studies of inequality in China typically ignore cost-of-living differences between areas. Under the Balassa-Samuelson effect, non-tradeables cost more in richer areas, so nominal inequality exceeds real inequality. This especially matters in China, where spatial cost-of-living differences should have increased with recent development of urban housing markets. We use new data on apartment prices in 104 major cities in China to develop housing-related spatial deflators. The level of spatial inequality in 2016 is overstated 27 percent if cost-of-living differences are ignored. A hedonic analysis of 41,000 individual apartment sales shows most price variation is between areas, rather than from features of individual apartments. The dominant trend in the reform era is for regional inequality in China to decline, contrary to common perceptions. In nominal terms, the Theil Index for inter-provincial inequality in 2016 is just 46 percent of its 1978 level, and in real terms the fall in inequality would be even greater.

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  • Chao Li & John Gibson, 2018. "Regional Inequality in China allowing for Spatial Cost-of-Living Differences: Evidence from a Hedonic Analysis of Apartment Prices," Working Papers in Economics 18/12, University of Waikato.
  • Handle: RePEc:wai:econwp:18/12
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Zhang, Xiaobo & Yang, Jin & Wang, Shenglin, 2011. "China has reached the Lewis turning point," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(4), pages 542-554.
    2. LAN, Yuexing & SYLWESTER, Kevin, 2010. "Does the law of one price hold in China? Testing price convergence using disaggregated data," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 224-236, June.
    3. Li, Chao & Gibson, John, 2013. "Rising Regional Inequality in China: Fact or Artifact?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 16-29.
    4. Iris Claus & Les Oxley & Chen Wang & Guanghua Wan & Dan Yang, 2014. "Income Inequality In The People'S Republic Of China: Trends, Determinants, And Proposed Remedies," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(4), pages 686-708, September.
    5. John Gibson & Chao Li, 2017. "The Erroneous Use Of China'S Population And Per Capita Data: A Structured Review And Critical Test," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 905-922, September.
    6. John Gibson & Trinh Le & Bonggeun Kim, 2017. "Prices, Engel Curves, and Time-Space Deflation: Impacts on Poverty and Inequality in Vietnam," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 31(2), pages 504-530.
    7. Hongbin Li & Lei Li & Binzhen Wu & Yanyan Xiong, 2012. "The End of Cheap Chinese Labor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(4), pages 57-74, Fall.
    8. Chao Li & John Gibson, 2014. "Spatial Price Differences and Inequality in the People's Republic of China: Housing Market Evidence," Asian Development Review, MIT Press, vol. 31(1), pages 92-120, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    China; housing; population; regional inequality; spatial deflators;

    JEL classification:

    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • R11 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, Environmental Issues, and Changes

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