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The pattern of growth and poverty reduction in China

  • Montalvo, Jose G.
  • Ravallion, Martin

China has seen a huge reduction in the incidence of extreme poverty since the economic reforms that started in the late 1970s. Yet, the growth process has been highly uneven across sectors and regions. The paper tests whether the pattern of China´s growth mattered to poverty reduction using a new provincial panel data set constructed for this purpose. The econometric tests support the view that the primary sector (mainly agriculture) has been the main driving force in poverty reduction over the period since 1980. It was the sectoral unevenness in the growth process, rather than its geographic unevenness, that handicapped poverty reduction. Yes, China has had great success in reducing poverty through economic growth, but this happened despite the unevenness in its sectoral pattern of growth. The idea of a trade-off between these sectors in terms of overall progress against poverty in China turns out to be a moot point, given how little evidence there is of any poverty impact of non-primary sector growth, controlling for primary-sector growth. While the non-primary sectors were key drivers of aggregate growth, it was the primary sector that did the heavy lifting against poverty.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5069.

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Date of creation: 01 Oct 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5069
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  1. Bezemer, Dirk J & Headey, Derek, 2007. "Agriculture, Development and Urban Bias," MPRA Paper 7026, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Richard Tiffin & Xavier Irz, 2006. "Is agriculture the engine of growth?," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 35(1), pages 79-89, 07.
  3. Loayza, Norman V. & Raddatz, Claudio, 2006. "The composition of growth matters for poverty alleviation," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4077, The World Bank.
  4. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 1997. "What Can New Survey Data Tell Us about Recent Changes in Distribution and Poverty?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 11(2), pages 357-82, May.
  5. Ravallion, Martin, 1995. "Growth and poverty: Evidence for developing countries in the 1980s," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 48(3-4), pages 411-417, June.
  6. Derek D. Headey, 2008. "National policies and the sectoral pattern of economic growth," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 38(3), pages 287-299, 05.
  7. Ravallion, Martin, 1997. "Can high-inequality developing countries escape absolute poverty?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 51-57, September.
  8. Datt, Gaurav & Ravallion, Martin, 1992. "Growth and redistribution components of changes in poverty measures : A decomposition with applications to Brazil and India in the 1980s," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 275-295, April.
  9. Louis Kuijs & Tao Wang, 2006. "China's Pattern of Growth: Moving to Sustainability and Reducing Inequality," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 14(1), pages 1-14.
  10. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 2002. "Why has economic growth been more pro-poor in some states of India than others?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 381-400, August.
  11. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav, 1996. "How Important to India's Poor Is the Sectoral Composition of Economic Growth?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(1), pages 1-25, January.
  12. Ravallion, Martin, 2001. "Growth, Inequality and Poverty: Looking Beyond Averages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1803-1815, November.
  13. Kraay, Aart, 2006. "When is growth pro-poor? Evidence from a panel of countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 198-227, June.
  14. Gaurav Datt & Martin Ravallion, 2002. "Is India's Economic Growth Leaving the Poor Behind?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 89-108, Summer.
  15. Chaudhuri, Shubham & Ravallion, Martin, 2006. "Partially awakened giants : uneven growth in China and India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4069, The World Bank.
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