China Edges Towards Inequality Measure

Caixin magazine recently reported the National Bureau of Statistics’ failure for an eleventh consecutive year to release the country’s Gini coefficient, a key measure of economic inequality. Now, China Daily describes planned steps towards future publication of an official national figure.

“The nationwide survey, which will provide basic data for China’s Gini coefficient calculation, will cover about 140,000 urban and rural households, and the gathering and use of data will conform to international standards,” Xie Hongguang, deputy chief of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said.

The integrated urban-rural income data is scheduled to be published in 2013 to pave the way for the publication of a national Gini coefficient that can measure income inequality, Xie said ….

Yi Xianrong, a researcher with the Institute of Finance and Banking under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, suggested that the government introduce regulations to ensure the transparency of income information.

“The public have a right to know the Gini coefficient,” Yi said.

Last year’s NBS figures put China’s rural Gini coefficient at 0.39, just short of the 0.4 mark widely held to show potentially destabilising inequality. But the article also cites the World Bank’s 2009 estimate of 0.47 for the country as a whole. See explanations of the Gini coefficient from the World Bank and Wikipedia, and the latter’s global comparison, from Sweden and Norway in the 0.20s to Namibia at over 0.7.