Essays in Honor of Keith B. Griffin
Edited by James K. Boyce, Stephen Cullenberg, Prasanta K. Pattanaik and Robert Pollin
Chapter 1: The Fall in Chinese Poverty: Issues of Measurement, Incidence and Cause
Carl Riskin China’s poverty reduction strategy should be brought out of the shadows and become an integral part of overall economic policy. Keith Griffin, 2000 Introduction China’s economic record of the past quarter century is commonly seen as a great success in generating high rates of growth and reducing poverty. From a comparative perspective, there is no doubt that this view is accurate.1 Rejecting the ‘market bolshevik’ policies of institutional shock therapy pushed on European transition countries by foreign consultants and international financial organizations, which produced an economic and social disaster in Russia, China adopted a pragmatic, step-by-step approach under which both economic growth and social welfare were greatly advanced.2 Evaluated critically on its own however, and without the benefit of the contrast with the Russian disaster, China’s record displays a number of uncertainties, even about the size and growth of GDP.3 Poverty too is an area in which there is much uncertainty. That is unfortunate, because when it comes to the global number of poor, the world including China has behaved quite differently than the world excluding it. Table 1.1 tells the story, according to one set of recent estimates. When China is taken into account, the absolute number of people in the world who are under the World Bank’s PPP$1/day consumption poverty line fell markedly (by 26 percent) between 1981 and 2001. But if China is left out of the reckoning, the total number of poor in the rest of the world actually rose by almost 4...
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