Yu Xie

Yu XieThe income gap between rich and poor has been growing steadily in China in the last few decades and is now wider than that of the United States. An April 29 Businessweek.com article described University of Michigan (U-M) research showing that income inequality in China almost doubled between 1980 and 2010. Researchers found that China’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, had increased from 0.3 in 1980 to 0.55 in 2010. By comparison, the United States’s coefficient in 2010 was 0.45. A coefficient of 0.5 or higher shows a severe income gap. A recent survey of Chinese citizens ranked income inequality as the nation’s top social challenge. But according to ISR researcher Yu Xie, the Chinese generally have put up with the disparity between rich and poor. “Chinese recognize income inequality as a serious social problem; on the other hand, they seem to have high tolerance for income inequality,” said Xie. “They don’t like it, but they seem to accept it as a fact of life. Something they have to pay for fast economic growth.”