In his address to the assembled 18th Party Congress on Thursday, president and Party general secretary Hu Jintao stressed the importance of battling corruption. A survey conducted by China Youth Daily last week, though, showed even greater anticipation for new steps to combat income inequality. From Lilian Lin at China Real Time Report:
Of 11,405 Chinese Internet users polled by the Social Survey Center of China Youth Daily last week, 66.6% said they thought the country was likely to pursue reforms related to income distribution in the future, the newspaper reported on Tuesday (in Chinese). Second on the list were reforms aimed at curbing corruption (57.8%), followed by reforms of the economic system (53.5%) in third.
[…] China “huge income disparity” was likewise the top choice when Internet users were asked to identify factors that could drag down the country’s development in the next decade, garnering votes from more than 75% of respondents.
Measuring income inequality is difficult in China, in part because rich Chinese families are loathe to reveal the true extent of their wealth. Even so, independent research suggests the income gap is expanding rapidly. Where the vast majority of Chinese families were on roughly equal financial footing prior the launch of economic reforms in the late 1970s, one academic survey of more than 8000 Chinese households conducted by Texas A&M professor Gan Li in 2011 found the country’s top 10% controlling 56% of income – a figure that makes China more equal than some African countries.
Victoria Ruan examined the scale and risks of China’s wealth gap at South China Morning Post:
Li Shi, a professor at Beijing Normal University who has become known as “Mr China Income Distribution” believes the widening wealth gap threatens economic growth.
He uses an internationally recognised ratio, the Gini coefficient, to
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