The long-term evolution of national income inequality and rural poverty in China
Using the five waves of the China Household Income Project surveys conducted during 1988–2013, we investigate long-term changes in national income inequality and rural poverty in China.
National income inequality rose markedly to 2007 and thereafter fell slightly. Income growth was widely shared, but inequality increased because the high-income percentiles had faster income growth than lower percentiles and because the gap between urban and rural household incomes widened.
The fall in income inequality after 2007 reflects faster income growth among low-income percentiles and the impacts of newly introduced redistributive policies.
The study also finds a considerable, ongoing poverty reduction in rural China. A poverty decomposition analysis indicates that this rural poverty reduction was mostly due to income growth rather than redistribution.