Working Papers

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This paper studies the welfare implications of inequality among social groups by linking relative deprivation with theory of relative utility. It applies a methodology that identifies social groups that suffer greater deprivation relative to the average for the whole society, as a result of the rising inequality in China. Using five waves of the Chinese Household Income Project (CHIPs) from 1988 to 2013, it provides the dynamic evolution of deprivation suffered by different social groups such as rural residents, the elderly, the low educated group, and those live in the Western inland. Our findings provide evidence of the success of urbanization, development of Western areas and education expansion in reducing inequality and deprivation in China.
Using the conventional concept of implicit tax, we investigate pension incentives to retire for private sector employees in China. The social security pension consists of pay-as-you-go defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) systems. Based on Chinese official parameters and the revised OECD models, our studies conclude that the DB system discourages people from working more, but the DC system offers considerably greater incentives at the expense of financial sustainability. If the annuity factors in the DC scheme were linked to the probability of retirees’ mortality, then both constant incentives to work longer and financial sustainability could be achieved.
Using data from the Chinese Household Income Project surveys for 1988, 1995, 2002 and 2013, we investigate the role of public pensions in income inequality among households with elderly members across two decades of pension policy reforms. We examine the distribution and role of public pensions at a national level. We analyse the evolution of the contribution of public pensions to national income inequality across a much more extended time period than earlier studies, which have generally focused on regional changes over short periods. Our findings suggest that public pensions have become the most important source of income for households with elderly members on average in China, but the distribution of pension income is highly unequal, with a Gini coefficient of 0.74 in 2013. Public pension income has been the largest source of income inequality for elderly households since 2002 and contributed to more than half of total income inequality in the most recent year of the survey. This finding is robust against variations in the income inequality measures used. Additionally, our analysis suggests unequal distribution of pension benefits is the primary driver of pensioners’ income inequality. Among several hypothetical policy changes, ensuring a minimum pension benefit for all existing pensioners seems to be the most fiscally effective option in reducing income inequality, with a 0.8% reduction in the Gini coefficient for a 1% increase in public pension expenditure.
The relevance of tax progressivity measures to policy-making depends on whether they help assess the social welfare implications of taxation. This paper proposes a social welfare function framework to derive measures of tax progressivity and explore their normative properties. Using the social welfare framework, we derive the Kakwani index from Sen’s social welfare function as well as a new class of progressivity measures that incorporate a distribution judgment parameter capturing inequality aversion. The paper also draws social welfare implications of Suits' measure of tax progressivity. In addition, the paper proposes a new measure of tax progressivity derived from Bonferroni social welfare function. We apply the methodology developed in the paper to the Australian data on individual taxes for the 2014–2015 financial year.
The high economic growth and increasing inequality have been the two main features of the Chines economy since the end of the 1970s. The economic growth contributed to a substantial reduction in poverty, and the worsening income distribution contributed to an increase in poverty. The adverse impact of worsening income distribution did not offset the massive reduction in poverty. The primary aim of this paper is to define and measure patterns of growth through poverty elasticity of income sources. It makes methodological contributions in the derivations of this elasticity. The paper analyzes the patterns of growth to Rural China in the period 2007-2013, utilizing the Household and Income Project (CHIP). The empirical results showed that the economic growth has been unfavorable to the poor. It amounted to a loss of almost 25% of growth rate. If China’s objective to eliminate poverty by 2020, such a degree of anti-poor growth should be of concern to the policy makers in China. The paper has drawn many policy conclusions. It has identified which policies are pro-poor, and which are not. And which policies can achieve a rapid reduction in poverty.
This study uses migrant household survey data from 2008 and 2009 to examine how parental migration decisions are associated with the nutritional status of children in rural and urban China. Results from instrumental variables regressions show a substantial adverse effect of children’s exposure to parental migration on height-for-age Z-scores of left-behind children relative to children who migrate with their parents. Additional results from a standard Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition, a quantile decomposition, and a counterfactual distribution analysis all confirm that children who are left behind in rural villages – usually because of the oppressive hukou system – have poorer nutritional status than children who migrate with their parents, and the gaps are biggest at lower portions of the distribution.
随着工资水平的上扬和计算机技术的日臻成熟,计算机在工作岗位上的应用日益普遍。 根据新近的城市劳动力调查资料,58%的城市在岗职工在工作中需要使用计算机。在控制了个人特征、人力资本水平和工作任务属性等因素,并考虑了不可观测的特征可能产生的潜在影响后,我们发现使用计算机可以带来 12-15%的工资回报。使用企业-员工匹配调查数据的稳健性检验,仍然支持在工作中使用计算机会带来生产率提升的基本判断。计算机使用与劳动力市场的进一步结合有利于中国经济转向以生产率推动的经济增长模式,也有助于应对加速出现的老龄化进程。
Adopting a simple demand system, we aim to re-estimate China.s income inequality using the Urban Household Survey (UHS) data assuming the expenditure data is well measured. We find income inequality growth exceeds the growth rate of consumption inequality, although income inequality is still lower than consumption inequality over the period 2003-2009. We also .nd that the increase of income inequality is mainly due to the increase of inequality between the middle expenditure group and the high expenditure group, while the income inequality between the middle-expenditure group and the low-expenditure group slightly decreases. This not only confirms the presence of pervasive grey income, also implying that grey incomes mostly exist in the high-expenditure stratum. Following Aguiar and Bils (2015), we assume that the Engel coeffcient is log-linear and that the income elasticities are constant over time. In the robustness test, we relax the assumptions and find that the estimation results are still robust.
Most poverty research has explored monetary poverty. This paper presents and analyses the global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) estimations for China. Using China Family Panel Studies (CFPS), we find China’s global MPI was 0.035 in 2010 and decreased significantly to 0.017 in 2014. The dimensional composition of MPI suggests that nutrition, education, safe drinking water and cooking fuel contribute most to overall non-monetary poverty in China. Such analysis is also applied to sub-groups, including geographic areas (rural/urban, east/central/west, provinces), as well as social characteristics such as gender of the household heads, age, education level, marital status, household size, migration status, ethnicity, and religion. We find the level and composition of poverty differs significantly across certain subgroups. We also find high levels of mismatch between monetary and multidimensional poverty at the household level, which highlights the importance of using both complementary measures to track progress in eradicating poverty.
China’s Rural Minimum Living Standard Guarantee program (Dibao) is the largest social safety-net program in the world. Given the scale and the popularity of Rural Dibao, it is necessary to rigorously evaluate it so that policymakers know the extent to which the program meets its intended objective of reducing poverty. This paper develops some new methods and uses data from the 2013 Chinese Household Income Project (CHIP2013) to examine the targeting performance of the rural Dibao program. The paper has found that the Rural Dibao program suffers from very low targeting accuracy, high exclusion error, and inclusion error, and yields a significant negative social rate of return. It discusses possible causes and argues that the fundamental mechanism has to be redesigned to increase the effectiveness of the program. The paper makes some recommendations to reform Dibao that will significantly improve targeting and reduce the cost of running the program. That will help China to achieve its goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2020.
Numerous empirical studies have documented a strong association between social networks and individuals' migration decisions. Few papers formally analyse how social networks affect both migration decisions that affect the evolution of social networks overtime, and labor market outcomes. In order to understand these relationships, I develop and estimate a dynamic model with return and repeated migration, social network investment decisions and labor market transitions. The model distinguishes between two channels through which social networks may affect migration decisions: (1) a direct effect on migration costs and (2) an indirect effect on labor market outcomes through the job arrival rate. I use the model to study one of the largest ongoing internal migrations in human history: rural-urban migration in China. To estimate the model, I use panel data from the Chinese Household Income Project (2007-2009). The estimation results show that social networks affect both channels significantly. Individuals with networks have 40% higher job arrival rate than those without networks on average. In addition, social networks reduce average migration costs by 7%. I also show that policies that directly lower migration costs may be more cost effective at increasing rural-urban migration in China. These policy experiments also show that without considering the impact of network investment, the government has to spend more to offset the effect of no investment in social networks.
We use 1995, 2002 and 2013 CHIP data to investigate the urban household consumption expenditure inequality. The overall inequality of urban household consumption expenditure measured by Gini coefficient slightly decreases from 0.33 in 1995 to 0.32 in 2002, but increases to 0.36 in 2013. However, the percentile ratio of p90/p10 shows that consumption inequality increases all the time. Besides, the inequality of basic food consumption is much smaller than the overall consumption, its contribution to the overall consumption inequality decreases from 20% in 1995 and 2002 to 15% by 2013, and its share also decreases steadily from 34% in 1995 to 30% in 2002 and further to 24% in 2013, and finally its share steadily decreases as the overall consumption level moving up the distribution in each of the three years. The inequality of housing consumption is much larger than overall consumption but decreasing over time, its contribution to the overall consumption inequality increases 35% in earlier two years to 40% by 2013, and its share also sharply increases from 23% in 1995 to 30% in 2002 and further to 38% in 2013, besides its share shows upward sloping as overall consumption level increases in each of the three years.
Past studies of the gender wage gap in urban China have found that since the 1980s the gap between men and women’s wage earnings has progressively widened. Using data from the CHIP urban household surveys for the years 1995, 2002, 2007 and 2013, we provide consistent estimates of the gender wage gap in urban China and investigate factors contributing to that gap. From 1995 to 2007 we find a substantial, progressive widening of the gap. From 2007 to 2013 we find that the gender wage gap took a new direction and narrowed. We discuss the gender wage gap in relation to structural changes in the urban economy and life cycle events, as well as government policies that affect women and men differentially. Oaxaca-Blinder decompositions reveal that the contribution of differences in characteristics between men and women to the wage gap had declined over time and, as of 2013 the gap was almost entirely unexplained. We investigate key factors underlying the gender wage gap in recent years, specifically, the relationships between wage earnings of women versus men and sector of employment as well as individual characteristics such as age, education, marriage and children.
The paper investigates the poverty status, trend and its determinants of Han and ethnic minorities in rural China using the CHIP 2002 and CHIP 2013 data. The study finds that household endowments and regional differences mainly lead ethnic minorities and Han households differ. When household endowments and regional differences are being equal, ethnic minorities had even lower probability of falling into absolute poverty than Han households in 2002; and there was no significant difference in probability of f falling into absolute poverty between Han and ethnic minority households in 2013. The decomposition results indicate that higher educational returns for ethnic minorities was the major reason makes the ethnic minorities had lower probability of falling into poverty than Han households in 2002. In sum, the supportive policy from both central and local governments is effective to reduce the poverty for ethnic minorities and ethnic minority areas. The study provides some policy implications for China to get ridding of poverty, in particular for ethnic minority areas. There could be more supports for ethnic minority areas, expand the policy implementation in ethnic minority area. We also suggest improving the educational achievement for people living in poverty. All the ethnic minority children from household under poverty should have equitable access to qualified education and increase their returns from education.
The inequality of wealth in China has increased rapidly in recent years. Prior to 1978 all Chinese households possessed negligible wealth. China therefore presents a fascinating case study of how inequality of household wealth increases as economic reform takes place, marketisation occurs, and capital accumulates. Wealth inequality and its growth are measured and decomposed using data from two national sample surveys of the China Household Income Project (CHIP) relating to 2002 and 2013. Techniques are devised and applied to measure the sensitivity of wealth inequality to plausible assumptions about under-representation of and under-reporting by the wealthy. An attempt is made to explain the rising wealth inequality in terms of the relationships between income and wealth, house price inflation, differential saving, and income from wealth.
Projects of CCEHD