Shining Light On China’s ‘Gray Income’

Andrew Batson writes on inaccuracies in reported incomes for the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report:

It’s become increasingly widely accepted among researchers that better-off Chinese people not only hide their money from the taxman, they also don’t honestly answer the survey questions that government agencies use to figure out household incomes. The clear implication is that official income figures are too low.

“Due to people’s increasing sense of privacy, there is some omission and understatement in the current income survey, and relatively few members of high-income groups are in the survey sample,” writes one researcher.

This statement comes not from a bomb-throwing critic, but an official within the statistics bureau: Wang Youjuan, who this week published a lengthy essay (in Chinese) on the bureau’s website. The essay carries a disclaimer that it represents only the opinions of its author, and not the National Bureau of Statistics.

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