A Decade of Rising Poverty in Urban China: Who Are More Likely to Fall Under?

Feng Wang, University of California, Irvine
Tsui-o Tai, University of California, Irvine

Rising inequality has been one of the most profound social consequences of China's post-socialist transitions. This paper examines the trend and patterns of rising inequality and poverty in China’s urban areas for the decade of the 1990s. Using data from China's Urban Household Income and Expenditure Survey data, we examine evidence for three competing hypotheses interpreting the causes of poverty: individual ability, structural position, and household demographic composition. Our data come from three of China's provinces and for three time points: 1992, 1996, and 2001. Our multivariate analyses suggest that the household head's education and household demographic composition are the two most important factors throughout our study period, whereas unemployment and measures of structural factors (work organization ownership type, industry, and occupation) played a more prominent role near the end of the 1990s, when radical urban economic reform measures were put into place.

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Presented in Session 159: Chinese Inequality