China Lets Gini Out of the Bottle

China has not made its Gini coefficient public since 2000. The Gini coefficient is a measure of income inequality, ranging from 0, or perfect equality, to 1, or perfect inequality. A figure above 0.4 is widely believed to indicate potentially destabilising inequality. A recent survey suggested that China’s Gini coefficient was higher than other estimates at an unnerving 0.61, but Chinese state media reports that it stood at a more moderate 0.474 in 2012. From China Daily: Known as the Gini coefficient, the index has been retreating gradually since hitting a peak of 0.491 in 2008, dropping to 0.49 in 2009, 0.481 in 2010 and 0.477 in 2011, Ma Jiantang,director of the National Bureau of Statistics, told a press conference. The index stood at 0.479 in 2003, 0.473 in 2004, 0.485 in 2005, 0.487 in 2006 and 0.484 in2007, Ma said, citing NBS calculations. The Gini coefficient has stayed at a relatively high level of between 0.47 and 0.49 during the past decade, indicating that China must accelerate its income distribution reform to narrow the rich-poor gap, Ma said. “After the financial crisis in 2008, China’s Gini coefficient gradually dropped from the peak of0.491 that year as the government took effective measures to bring benefits for its people,” Ma said. The World Bank also issues Gini coefficient findings, but has not done so for China since 2005, Reuters reports: “We should improve our efforts to divide the cake. When we are building our ‘well-off’ society, we should not only double people’s average income and GDP, but also better distribute the national wealth and give mid-to—low income residents a bigger part of the pie,” Ma said, echoing policy priorities among some fiscal reformers. Ma said the World Bank put China’s Gini coefficient at 0.474 in 2008. The World Bank’s last published ...
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2 Responses to China Lets Gini Out of the Bottle

  1. nyc says:

    That should probably read “an unnerving 0.61” to be consistent with the source cited (it must be less than 1, since 1 is perfect inequality).

January 20, 2013, 10:04 AM
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