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Inequality in China : an overview

  • Knight, John

This paper provides an overview of research on income inequality in China over the period of economic reform. It presents the results of two main sources of evidence on income inequality and, assisted by various decompositions, explains the reasons income inequality has increased rapidly and the Gini coefficient is now almost 0.5. This paper evaluates the degree of income inequality from the perspectives of people's subjective well-being and government concerns. It poses the following question: has income inequality peaked? It also discusses the policy implications of the analysis. The concluding comments of this paper propose a research agenda and suggest possible lessons from China's experience that may be useful for other developing countries.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6482.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6482
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  1. Kai-yuen Tsui, 2007. "Forces Shaping China'S Interprovincial Inequality," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(1), pages 60-92, 03.
  2. Senik, Claudia, 2004. "When information dominates comparison: Learning from Russian subjective panel data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2099-2123, August.
  3. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2004. "Community, Comparisons and Subjective Well-being in a Divided Society," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2004-21, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
  5. Kanbur, Ravi & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2004. "Fifty Years of Regional Inequality in China: A Journey through Central Planning, Reform, and Openness," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  6. John Knight & Ramani Gunatilaka, 2010. "The Rural-Urban Divide in China: Income but Not Happiness?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 506-534.
  7. KNIGHT, John & SONG, Lina & GUNATILAKA, Ramani, 2009. "Subjective well-being and its determinants in rural China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 635-649, December.
  8. Knight, John & Ding, Sai, 2012. "China's Remarkable Economic Growth," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199698691, March.
  9. Xiaolu Wang & Wing Thye Woo, 2011. "The Size and Distribution of Hidden Household Income in China," Asian Economic Papers, MIT Press, vol. 10(1), pages 1-26, January.
  10. Chao Li & John Gibson, 2012. "Rising Regional Inequality in China: Fact or Artefact?," Working Papers in Economics 12/09, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  11. Simon Appleton & John Knight & Lina Song & Qingjie Xia, 2004. "Contrasting paradigms: segmentation and competitiveness in the formation of the chinese labour market," Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(3), pages 185-205.
  12. Knight, John & Song, Lina, 1999. "The Rural-Urban Divide: Economic Disparities and Interactions in China," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198293309, March.
  13. LAU, Chi Keung Marco, 2010. "New evidence about regional income divergence in China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 293-309, June.
  14. Carol Graham & Andrew Felton, 2006. "Inequality and happiness: Insights from Latin America," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 107-122, April.
  15. Easterlin, Richard A. & Morgan, Robson & Switek, Malgorzata & Wang, Fei, 2013. "China's Life Satisfaction, 1990-2010," IZA Discussion Papers 7196, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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