>HOW MUCH INEQUALITY CAN CHINA STAND?
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This monograph is based on a presentation by Nick Young to a Wilton Park Conference in Steyning, UK, in October 2006.
Section I (pp 3-11) describes the range and nature of growing inequalities in China, citing indicators that are largely drawn from Chinese government sources. (This section was published in our December 2005 newsletter)
Section II (pp 11-22) discusses the role of inequality in the economy, also placing this in a historical and global context. It argues that inequality in land and labour markets has been a driver of growth but now constrains change in the nature of that growth.
Section III (pp 22-35) considers the political sustainability of inequality. It sketches emerging class stratification, noting that the wide gap between top and bottom income groups is occupied by a “bulging middle,” comprising roughly half the population, whose incomes are rather low and whose fortunes and attitudes will be critical to future stability. This section concludes that palliative measures and policies the government is now putting in place will, given continued, steady economic growth, probably suffice to avoid widespread unrest. But, this section also argues, incremental political reform to increase administrative accountability will be increasingly necessary to satisfy rising social expectations.
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