Rural Poverty in China: Problem and Policy Gregory c chow (8/9/06)



Download 126,1 Kb.
Page1/3
Date conversion19.02.2017
Size126,1 Kb.
  1   2   3
Rural Poverty in China: Problem and Policy
Gregory C Chow (8/9/06)
(Comments welcome.)

Abstract:



This paper describes the economic conditions of rural China regarding poverty. By dividing the problem of rural poverty into three components it explains why rural poverty is China’s No. 1 economic problem in spite of the significant improvement in the living standard of the rural population. After discussing the solution proposed by the Chinese government it raises two policy questions, one concerning a proposal to eliminate the operational functions of township governments in the streamlining of the local government structure and the second on the possibility of controlling the abuse of power by local party officials that infringes on the rights of the farmers. A comparison with the conditions in India is provided.
1. Introduction
China’s rapid economic growth in the order of 9.4 percent per year since economic reform started in 1978 is well recognized. Many observers also agree that the momentum for further growth in the foreseeable future is assured. The large amount of wealth created and the insufficient attention given to the welfare of residents in the rural regions have created a large income gap between the urban rich and rural poor as well as opportunities of exploitation of the latter by local government and Communist Party officials. Hence the country’s leaders now consider the number one economic and social problem to be rural poverty despite the substantial improvement in the living standard of the rural population in recent years.
In section 2 of this paper, I will examine the economic conditions of the rural population, its absolute improvement, its relative status as compared with the urban population and the increase in disparity in per capita consumption between regions. In section 3, I will divide the problem of rural poverty into three components and explain why it is the number one problem in spite of the improvement in economic conditions of the poor. Section 4 is a description of government policy to solve the rural poverty problem. Section 5 discusses two policy issues concerning the government’s solution, one on the policy to eliminate the functions of township governments in five years and the second on the protection of the farmers’ rights to keep the land contracted to them. Section 6 is a brief discussion of the poverty problem in India by comparison. Section 7 concludes.
2. Statistics on Rural Poverty and Economic Disparity in China
In this section I examine three kinds of statistics on rural poverty and economic disparity in China. One is the means of per capita disposable income and per capita consumption of urban and rural residents and their rates of change. The second is the change in the lower tail of income distribution of rural residents through time. The third is measures of dispersion of per capita income or consumption across provinces.
2.1 Trends of Per Capita Income and Consumption of Urban and Rural Residents
Table 1 shows annual per capita disposable income of urban and rural residents. The ratio of urban to rural per capita income decreased from 2.57 in 1978 to 1.86 in 1985 showing the initial benefits of agricultural reform through the household responsibility system of assigning land to individual farm households. However, the ratio increased in favor of the

Table 1 Annual Per Capita Disposable Income of Urban and Rural Residents (Yuan)




Year

1978

1980

1985

1989

1997

2002

2003

Urban

343.4

477.6

739.1

1374

5160

7703

8472

Rural

133.6

191.3

397.6

602

2090

2476

2622

Income Ratio

2.570

2.497

1.859

2.282

2.469

3.111

3.231

Urban CPI

100.0

109.5

134.2

219.2

481.9

475.1

479.4

Rural CPI







100.0

157.9

322.3

315.2

320.2

Source: China Statistical Yearbook 1999 Table 10.1 for years up to 1985; China Statistical Yearbook 2004 Table 10-1 for income data beginning 1989, Table 9-2 for the urban and rural consumer price indices (respectively with 1978=100 and 1985=100).
urban residents afterwards, rising steadily from the late 1980’s to 2003 when it reached 3.23. Thus income disparity between urban and rural residents has increased steadily since the middle 1980s.
Concerning the improvement of per capita income in real terms for the rural residents we record the consumer price index for rural residents in the last row of Table 1 which shows an increase from 100.0 in 1985 to 320.2 in 2003. In 2003 prices, the per capita income of rural residents in 1989 was 602(3.202/1.579) or 1220.8 yuan. This amounts to an exponential rate of increase from 1989 to 2003 of (ln2622-ln1220.8)/14 or 0.0546 per year, or by 5.61 percent per year, a fairly substantial rate of increase. A similar calculation for urban residents shows per capita real income increased from 1374(479.4/219.2)= 3005.0 yuan in 2003 prices in 1989 to 8472 yuan, implying an exponential rate of increase of (ln8472-ln3005)/14 = 0.0740, which is two percentage points higher than the rural figure.
On per capita consumption, Table 2 provides annual per capita living expenditure of urban and rural households for 1989, 1997, 2002 and 2003. The ratio of urban to rural expenditure increased from 2.351 in 1989 to 3.351 in 2003, showing a very large increase similar to the increase in the income ratio in Table 1.
Table 2 Annual Per Capita Living Expenditure of Urban and Rural Households (Yuan)

Year

1989

1997

2002

2003

Urban

1211

4186

6030

6511

Rural

515

1617

1834

1943

Ratio

2.351

2.589

3.288

3.351

Source: China Statistical Yearbook 2004, Table 10-1.
In 1989 real per capita consumption in 2003 prices for rural residents was 515(320.2/157.9) = 1044.4 yuan. This gives an average exponential rate of increase of (ln1943-ln1044.4)/14 = 0.04434 from 1989 to 2003, a very high rate of increase by comparison with other developing countries. In 1989 real per capita consumption in 2003 prices for urban residents was 1211(479.4/219.2) = 2648.5 yuan. This implies an average exponential rate of increase of (ln6511-ln2648.5)/14 = 0.06425 from 1989 to 2003, also two percentage points higher than for rural residents.
Thus the data show that urban-rural income and consumption disparity has increased, but the rural residents have enjoyed a fairly substantial rate of increase in both income and consumption, to the order of 5.5 and 4.5 percent per year respectively, even though these are two percentage points below the corresponding figures for urban residents.

There are some other aspects of consumption not measured in the above statistics on per capita consumption expenditure. First, per capita education expenditure provided by the government for urban residents was higher than for rural residents. Second, land was available for rural residents to build their own houses. As a result, living space per person available for rural residents in their own housing was more than housing space for urban residents for many years. Third, medical care for urban residents provided by the government under an insurance system was better than for rural residents. Only 22.5 percent of rural people are covered by rural cooperative medical care insurance system while the vast majority of urban residents receive adequate medical care, with some eighty percent of medical resources concentrated in cities. In terms of infrastructure, supply of running water is less adequate in rural areas. More than 60 percent of rural households do not have access to flush toilets. Six percent of villages are still beyond the reach of highways. Two percent of villages have no electricity supply. Six percent of villages do not have telephones. Some 150 million rural households face problems in fuel supply. However, incorporating these elements of consumption will not affect the general conclusions reached above concerning urban-rural comparison of per capita income and consumption.



.

2.2 Percentage of Rural Residents with Per Capita Income below the Poverty Line


Since the poverty problem may not be a problem among all rural residents but among the poorest of them, we have provided in Table 3 the left tail of the per capita annual income distribution of the rural residents. If we draw the poverty line in 2003 as having income below 600 yuan we find 3.47 percent below it, or about 28 million out of a rural population of 800 million, still a substantial number of people. (The 28 million figure is consistent with the official statement in 2005 that 26 million rural people living in poverty and nearly 20 million urban people living on the government's minimum allowance). In 1990 when the rural CPI was about half of the 2003 CPI, the percentage of households with per capita income below 300 yuan was 8.64. In 1985, when the CPI was about a third, the percentage of households with per capita income below 200 was 12.22 percent. Thus the percentage of rural population remaining below the poverty line of 600 yuan in 2003 prices has decreased substantially from 12 percent in 1985, to 9 percent in 1990 and to 3.5 percent in 2003. In 1985, the Chinese farmers were by and large happy, as their economic conditions had improved significantly after the introduction of the household responsibility system of private farming.
Table 3 Percentage of Rural Households in Different Income Ranges



Income

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2002

2003

< 100

9.80

0.96

0.30

0.21

0.31

0.40

0.49

100-200

51.80

11.26

1.78

0.36

0.20

0.19

0.18

200-300

25.30

25.61

6.56

0.78

0.43

0.28

0.31

300-400

8.60

24.00

12.04

1.47

0.69

0.50

0.52

400-500

2.90

15.85

14.37

2.30

1.01

0.79

0.78

500-600




9.06

13.94

3.37

1.37

1.25

1.19

600-800




8.02

20.80

9.54

4.44

3.62

3.25

<800

98.4

94.76

69.79

18.03

8.45

7.03

6.72

<600

98.4

86.74

48.99

15.21

4.01

3.41

3.47

<500










11.84

2.64

2.16

2.28
  1   2   3


The database is protected by copyright ©sckool.org 2016
send message

    Main page