Evolution of Income Mobility in the People's Republic of China: 1991-2002

Publication | June 2010

This paper looks at changes in the patterns of income mobility in the People's Republic of China between the early 1990s and early 2000s, a period when income inequality was rapidly rising.

Using two rounds of data on households, this paper measures income mobility in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) between the early 1990s and early 2000s. It finds that in the early 1990s, the increase in income inequality in the PRC was accompanied by a level of income mobility comparable to other developing countries in transition, and higher than that found in developed countries such as the United States. By the early 2000s, however, while the PRC’s income inequality increased further, income mobility decreased, implying that the probability of being stuck in a relatively lower level of income increased for households. This paper also finds divergent experiences of urban and rural households as the urban–rural gap widened.


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Data Sources and Procedures
  • Income Mobility: Another Robustness Test
  • Conclusions
  • References

Additional Details

  • Economics
  • Poverty
  • Social protection
  • China, People's Republic of
  • WPS102078
  • 1655-5252 (Print)

Published Version

Khor, Niny and John Pencavel. 2010. "Evolution of Income Mobility: People’s Republic of China, 1991–2002." In Poverty, Inequality, and Inclusive Growth in Asia: Measurement, Policy Issues, and Country Studies, edited by Juzhong Zhuang, 387–408. London: Anthem Press. https://doi.org/10.7135/UPO9780857288066.

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