Essays in Honor of Keith B. Griffin
Edited by James K. Boyce, Stephen Cullenberg, Prasanta K. Pattanaik and Robert Pollin
Chapter 2: The Rural–Urban Divide and the Evaluation of Political Economy in China
John Knight, Li Shi and Lina Song
2. The rural-urban divide and the evolution of political economy in China John Knight, Li Shi and Lina Song Introduction China is an important economy. It accounts for about 20 per cent of world population and for nearly 20 per cent of the world’s poor. Moreover it is becoming more important. During the period of economic reform – roughly the last 25 years – it has achieved a remarkable trend rate of economic growth: over 8 per cent per annum. By comparison with other Communist or ex-Communist countries, it has so far made a smooth transition from a planned economy towards a market economy. The Chinese economy presents fascinating challenges to economists, and Keith Griffin was one of the first Western development economists to accept the challenge (see for instance Griffin and Saith, 1981; Griffin and Griffin, 1983). As a group we first teamed up with Keith Griffin as members of an international project on income distribution in China, which he led with Zhao Renwei. The project was based on a very detailed and representative national household survey, designed by the team. It was an improvement on official surveys because it permitted empirical analysis at the micro (household and individual) levels, and because it used a broader definition of income, including the various forms of payment in kind that were important in China. The main output of the project was the book edited by Griffin and Zhao (1993). One of the most startling figures to emerge from it was the ratio of...
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