Thursday, 19 February 2009

Is China still a lot poorer than we thought?

China is a country of contradictions. All the press seem to concentrate on is the economic threat from China and the rise of the Chinese middle class.

I believe that while China has travelled a great distance in a very short space of time, millions of Chinese have not enjoyed the same journey. Yes, Chinese growth has probably resulted in the largest and quickest reduction in absolute poverty in history but let us now forget those that have been left behind.

This new World Bank Policy paper sheds some light on this issue.


"China is Poorer Than We Thought, but no Less Successful in the Fight Against Poverty"

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World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 4621

SHAOHUA CHEN, World Bank
Email: SCHEN@WORLDBANK.ORG
MARTIN RAVALLION, World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG)
Email: mravallion@worldbank.org

In 2005, China participated for the first time in the International Comparison Program (ICP), which collects primary data across countries on the prices for an internationally comparable list of goods and services. This paper examines the implications of the new Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) rate (derived by the ICP) for China's poverty rate (by international standards) and how it has changed over time. We provide estimates with and without adjustment for a likely sampling bias in the ICP data. Using an international poverty line of USD 1.25 at 2005 PPP, we find a substantially higher poverty rate for China than past estimates, with about 15% of the population living in consumption poverty, implying about 130 million more poor by this standard. The income poverty rate in 2005 is 10%, implying about 65 million more people living in poverty. However, the new ICP data suggest an even larger reduction in the number of poor since 1981.

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1 comment:

Chinese said...

Even things have progressed enormously over the last decades, There is little doubt poor/rich divide is even greater in China than in western societies.