In this chapter we begin to examine poverty incidence and its determinants. Through our surveyed data, we aim to reveal how poverty rates are unevenly distributed among different social groups and different living places. This will be followed by more detailed analyses of respectively poor groups in Chapter 3 and impoverished neighbourhoods in Chapter 4. The problem of urban poverty has been widely recognized in China and has attracted extensive research and policy studies (for example, Guan, 2000; Tang, 2003; Cai, 2003; Chen et al 2006; Hussain, 2003; Hong, 2003; Y.P. Wang, 2004; F. Wu, 2004; Li and Sato, 2006; Solinger, 2006). However, the measurement of urban poverty, that is the number of urban poor, is still not very clear. Data unavailability was once a major constraint for poverty studies in China. With micro-data such as household survey data becoming available, greater progress has been made, however. A different set of problems have emerged as a result: different data sources suggest very different poverty rates. Using official national statistics, the urban poverty rate seems not to be a problem and is, in fact, on the decline. There are two major official sources of urban household data. The first one is the household survey data conducted by the Chinese Income Distribution Project Team at the Institute of Economics, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), in cooperation with several foreign research institutes. The three large-scale CASS household surveys in 1988 (9009 urban households), 1995 (6931 urban households) and 1999 (4471 urban...
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