Economic Restructuring and Income Inequality in Urban China
Economic transition from a planned to a market oriented economy is often associated with a widening of income inequality. The nature of this change, however, may differ during different stages of the economic transition. This paper investigates the increase in income inequality in urban China during two phases of economic reform: a moderate reform era (1988–95) and a radical reform era (1995–99). It is found that although income inequality increased considerably during both stages, the nature and causes of the increase are different. In the moderate reform period, the increase in inequality was a result of some parts of society sharing more of the economic gain than others, and the main cause of this inequality is regional income dispersion. During the radical reform period income reductions at the lower end of the distribution is observed, and it is mainly due to the large-scale unemployment generated by labor reallocation.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Australian National University
Publication date: September 1, 2004