• home page
  • watch online
  • memory of tiananmen
  • controlling information
  • site map
  • discussion

china a and china b: chart

Although China's free-wheeling economy has lifted an estimated 250 million people out of poverty over the last 25 years, the income gap in this Communist Party-ruled nation has widened between its urban and rural areas -- what Nicholas Bequelin calls, respectively, "China A and China B."

Cities have become boom towns where wealthy inhabitants spend their disposable income in a growing consumer market. But rural Chinese have faced land seizures, increased unemployment and severe cutbacks in free or nearly free health care and education.

China recently announced the abolishment of the agricultural tax and educational fees, but critics maintain the reforms are a drop in the bucket for the 750 million rural residents who must contend with local governments that can be inefficient or corrupt.

In March 2006, the Chinese government announced that it would inject a further $5 billion into the rural economy over the next twelve months. That amounts to $7 a head -- probably not enough to change the minds of the hundreds of thousands of peasants who are leaving their rural homes and families to find work in industrial areas.

Here is a comparison of the latest available figures for urban/rural populations. For more on income disparity among nations, see the Editor's Note below this table.

Category

Urban

Rural

Population (2005, millions)

562

745

Per capita GDP (2003, yuan)

16,307

5,047

Per capita income (2005, yuan)

10,493 (disposable)

3,255 (net)

Per capita consumption expenditure (2003, yuan)

6,511

1,943

Consumer prices (percent increase from 2004 to 2005)

1.6

2.2

Average wage/year (2005, yuan)

8,020

2,405

Unemployment (percentage)

8 to 12

20

Poverty (percentage)

6 to 8

2.8

Life expectancy (2000)

75.21

69.55

Percentage with medical insurance (2004)

50

15

Avg. years of schooling among laborers (2002)

10.2

7.3

Avg primary school education funding (2001, yuan)

1,484

798

Numbers compiled from China's National Bureau of Statistics, the United Nations' China Human Development Report 2005, and news reports.

 

Editor's Note: The United Nations and the World Bank measure income disparity with the Gini coefficient, a measurement that starts at zero when all of a nation's citizens have equal income and ranges up to a theoretical 1.0, when all income is concentrated with a single individual. A Gini coefficient over 0.4 is considered worrisome. China's measurement was 0.45 in 2002, up from 0.30 in 1982. By comparison, the most recent U.S. Gini index was 0.466 [in 2004]; in 1982 it was 0.412. India's was 0.32, and Sweden's was 0.25 in 2002.

home + introduction + site map + watch online + memory of tiananmen + struggle to control information
analysis + interviews + join the discussion + making the film + filmmaker's chat + democracy, sooner or later?
readings + links + teacher's guide + dvd/vhs & transcript + press reaction + credits + privacy policy
FRONTLINE home + WGBH + PBS

posted apr. 11, 2006

FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of wgbh educational foundation.
background photo copyright © corbis/bettman.
web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

NEXT ON FRONTLINE

The Rise of ISISOctober 28th

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS