Chapter 4: Poverty Targeting in the People’s Republic of China
Wang Sangui INTRODUCTION The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has achieved remarkable progress in rural poverty reduction since the beginning of the reform period in the late 1970s. Measured by the ofﬁcial poverty line, the poor rural population was reduced from 250 million in 1978 to 80 million in 1993 and further to 28 million in 2002, or from 31 per cent of the rural population to only 3 per cent. This has been made possible by a combination of fast general economic growth and targeted poverty reduction programs. However, the evidence we survey below suggests that, whilst the latter may have played some role, their impact is likely to have been weak at best. Location targeting has been the main instrument of targeting used in PRC and there is surprisingly little evidence on who, within particular targeted areas, received the beneﬁts from such programs. This chapter summarizes the targeting measures used in antipoverty programs in PRC, with the focus on rural poverty, and considers the evidence on the effectiveness of the various poverty interventions. POVERTY IN PRC Despite the magnitude of the reduction in the ofﬁcial estimates of poverty there is still a considerable debate on the scale of poverty in PRC and on the accuracy of ofﬁcial statistics. Further, with the restructuring of state-owned enterprises and consequent unemployment, urban poverty is becoming a sensitive political issue, even though ofﬁcial statistics suggest that the latter is still a trivial phenomenon. The Appendix to this...
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