Wednesday, August 22, 2012

China's rural wealth gap near 'danger' level

Bill Savadove in AFP: China's rural inequality is nearing "danger" levels as hundreds of millions of people shun farming for better paid city work, causing a widening wealth gap, a report said. The state-linked Centre for Chinese Rural Studies said inequality within rural areas was growing given the difference in incomes between those who farmed and those who flocked to cities as migrant workers.

Although the majority of migrant workers live in cities for most of the year, they are officially registered as rural residents. "The difference in rural residents' income is getting bigger and pressure on living expenses is increasing," the centre said in a statement reported in state media on Wednesday.

China's growing wealth gap is a major concern for authorities keen to avoid public discontent that could lead to social unrest in the rapidly developing country of 1.3 billion people.

The centre estimated the Gini coefficient -- a commonly used measure of inequality -- was 0.3949 for rural residents last year, nearing what it called the "danger" level of 0.40, the statement said. The Gini coefficient measure varies between 0, reflecting complete equality, and 1, which indicates complete inequality....

A street in a Chinese village in 2008, shot by Stougard, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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