Multidimensional Development and Inequality in China. The effects of the reforms after Deng Xiaoping

Bortolotti, Luca (2019) Multidimensional Development and Inequality in China. The effects of the reforms after Deng Xiaoping. PhD thesis, University of Florence, University of Trento.

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This thesis sheds light on the multidimensional development experienced by China in the last decades, investigating to which extent different regions and segments of the society have benefitted from this process. The thesis comprises three independent chapters, each of which addresses this issue from a different angle and with different methodologies. The purpose of the first chapter is to document and analyze the trend and distribution of income, education and nutrition of Chinese individuals between 1989 and 2011. These three dimensions are analyzed separately (dashboard approach) through similar techniques, to preserve the possibility to compare the results of different dimensions. The inequalities observed in the three variables are measured with the Gini index, and are associated to the policies of the government and other explanatory variables. Moreover, the first chapter investigates how each type of inequality is related to the inequality of opportunities, and how the different types of discrimination evolved over time. The discrimination of individuals based on their circumstances (inequality of opportunities) is measured over time with a regression-based decomposition of inequalities. Income, education and nutrition inequalities show different trends, leading to dimension-specific policy implications. The purpose of the second chapter is to measure the Chinese poverty reduction in the multidimensional space and to individuate an informative index of multidimensional deprivation. Two alternative methodologies, the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) and the Multidimensional Synthesis Indicator (MSI), are adopted and compared, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of both indexes. Moreover, an original version of the MSI index is introduced, consistently with the idea of income as a mean, not an end, to achieve well-being. The multidimensional inequality amongst different groups of Chinese people is analyzed through these techniques, which are computed based on CHNS objective data, but result significantly correlated with subjective well-being too. The results, generally consistent with the previous MPI literature, contains also original findings about the intra-household identification of multidimensional deprivation. The purpose of the third chapter is to measure the multidimensional development and convergence of Chinese provinces with composite indexes. The introduction of several MSI indexes of development, based on ten economic and social indicators of development, allows to identify the development trajectory of all the 31 provinces of China between 1993 and 2016. The effectiveness of “harmonious society” policies is investigated in terms of achievements of synergies between social and economic achievements and in terms of convergence amongst provinces, according to the β- and σ-convergence methods. Both multidimensional development and convergence are characterized by generally positive results during the “harmonious society” period; however, inequalities across provinces remains, and interventions to recover the level and distribution of specific dimensions are needed. The results of the three chapters are consistent in highlighting that Chinese reforms have different effects in terms of income and multidimensional well-being. Moreover, the thesis generally points to an improvement of Chinese conditions (despite multidimensional indexes grow more slowly than income) that has been achieved also thanks to the efforts of the central government in pursuing a more balanced and harmonious development strategy. The thesis also indicates which dimensions and regions remain more fragile, providing a possible framework to design anti-poverty policy interventions. The diffusion of multidimensional indexes in future researches about Chinese development could allow to evaluate the trajectory of future reforms, preventing the repetition of unbalanced development strategies.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Development Economics and Local Systems - DELoS
PhD Cycle:31
Subjects:Area 13 - Scienze economiche e statistiche > SECS-P/01 ECONOMIA POLITICA
Uncontrolled Keywords:China, Multidimensional Development, Multidimensional Poverty
Repository Staff approval on:21 May 2019 10:48

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