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Spatial Price Differences in China: Estimates and Implications

  • Loren BRANDT

    (University of Toronto)

  • Carsten A HOLZ

    (Hong Kong University of Science & Technology)

Prices differ across space: from province to province, from rural (or urban) areas in one province to rural (or urban) areas in another province, and from rural to urban areas within one province. Systematic differences in prices across a range of goods and services in different localities imply regional differences in the costs of living. If high- income provinces also have high costs of living, and low-income provinces have low costs of living, the use of nominal income measures in explaining such economic outcomes as inequality can lead to misinterpretations. Income should be adjusted for costs of living. We are interested in the sign and magnitude of the adjustments needed, their changes over time, and their impact on economic outcomes in China. In this article, we construct a set of (rural, urban, total) provincial- level spatial price deflators for the years 1984-2002 that can be used to obtain provincial-level income measures adjusted for purchasing power. We provide illustrations of the significant effect of ignoring spatial price differences in the analysis of China's economy.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Development and Comp Systems with number 0504010.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 21 Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpdc:0504010
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 42
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  1. Hsiung, Bingyuang & Putterman, Louis, 1989. "Pre- and post-reform income distribution in a Chinese Commune: The case of dahe township in Hebei Province," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 406-445, September.
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  3. Xin Meng & Harry X Wu, 1995. "Household Income Determination and Regional Income Differential in Rural China," Chinese Economies Research Centre (CERC) Working Papers 1995-04, University of Adelaide, Chinese Economies Research Centre.
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  7. Ravi Kanbur & Xiaobo Zhang, 2005. "Fifty Years of Regional Inequality in China: a Journey Through Central Planning, Reform, and Openness," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 9(1), pages 87-106, 02.
  8. Irving B. Kravis & Robert E. Lipsey, 1988. "National Price Levels and the Prices of Tradables and Nontradables," NBER Working Papers 2536, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Trescott, Paul B., 1985. "Incentives versus equality: What does China's recent experience show?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 205-217, February.
  10. Adelman, Irma & Sunding, David, 1987. "Economic policy and income distribution in China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 444-461, September.
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  12. Shang-Jin Wei & Yi Wu, 2001. "Globalization and Inequality: Evidence from Within China," NBER Working Papers 8611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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