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Spatial Price Differences in China: Estimates and Implications

  • Loren Brandt

    (University of Toronto)

  • Carsten 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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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/mic/papers/0512/0512001.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Microeconomics with number 0512001.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: 02 Dec 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpmi:0512001
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 50
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Shang-Jin Wei & Yi Wu, 2001. "Globalization and Inequality: Evidence from Within China," NBER Working Papers 8611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Zhang, Siao-Bo & Kanbur, Ravi, 1999. "What Difference Do Polarization Measures Make? An Application To China," Working Papers 7224, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  5. Trescott, Paul B., 1985. "Incentives versus equality: What does China's recent experience show?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 13(2), pages 205-217, February.
  6. Dennis Tao Yang, 1999. "Urban-Biased Policies and Rising Income Inequality in China," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 306-310, May.
  7. Chen, Shaohua & Ravallion, Martin, 1996. "Data in transition: Assessing rural living standards in Southern China," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 23-56.
  8. Knight, J. & Lina, S., 1990. "The Determinants Of Urban Income Inequality In China," Economics Series Working Papers 9991, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Adelman, Irma & Sunding, David, 1987. "Economic policy and income distribution in China," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 444-461, September.
  12. Angus Deaton & Alessandro Tarozzi, 2000. "Prices and poverty in India," Working Papers 213, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
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