Income Polarization in the People’s Republic of China: Trends and Changes
This paper estimates income polarization in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 1978 to 2010 and decomposes the estimated polarization by population subgroup.
This paper estimates income polarization in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from 1978 to 2010 and decomposes the estimated polarization by population subgroup. In addition, a framework is proposed to disentangle a change in polarization into a growth and a redistribution component. This framework is then used to quantify the contributions of various income sources to a rise in polarization in the PRC between 2002 and 2007. The analytical results suggest that (1) income polarization exhibited a broadly increasing trend from 1978 to 2010; (2) income polarization was large and rising among rural citizens, while low and declining among urban citizens; polarization of migrants also declined; (3) geographically, income polarization rose in east and particularly central PRC, while west PRC was most polarized with little change over time; and (4) the rise in polarization between 2002 and 2007 was mainly driven by the investment income, followed by transfers. Conversely, business income is polarization-reducing, especially in rural PRC. To a lesser extent, wage is also polarization-reducing, especially among migrants.