Thumbnail Image


Publication or External Link





In the course of integrating into the global market, especially since China’s WTO accession, China has achieved remarkable GDP growth and has become the second largest economy in the world. These economic achievements have substantially increased Chinese incomes and have generated more government revenue for social progress. However, China’s economic progress, in itself, is neither sufficient for achieving desirable development outcomes nor a guarantee for expanding peoples’ capabilities. In fact, a narrow emphasis on GDP growth proves to be unsustainable, and may eventually harm the life quality of Chinese citizens. Without the right set of policies, a deepening trade-openness policy in China may enlarge social disparities and some people may further be deprived of basic public services and opportunities.

To address these concerns, this dissertation, a set of three essays in Chapters 2-4, examines the impact of China's WTO accession on income distribution, compares China’s income and multidimensional poverty reduction and investigates the factors, including the WTO accession, that predict multidimensional poverty.

By exploiting the exogenous variation in exposure to tariff changes across provinces and over time, Chapter 2 (Essay 1) estimates the causal effects of trade shocks and finds that China’s WTO accession has led to an increase in average household income, but its impacts are not evenly distributed. Households in urban areas have benefited more significantly than those in rural areas. Households with members working in the private sector have benefited more significantly than those in the public sector. However, the WTO accession has contributed to reducing income inequality between higher and lower income groups.

Chapter 3 (Essay 2) explains and applies the Alkire and Foster Method (AF Method), examines multidimensional poverty in China and compares it with income poverty. It finds that China’s multidimensional poverty has declined dramatically during the period from 1989-2011. Reduction rates and patterns, however, vary by dimensions: multidimensional poverty reduction exhibits unbalanced regional progress as well as varies by province and between rural and urban areas. In comparison with income poverty, multidimensional poverty reduction does not always coincide with economic growth. Moreover, if one applies a single measure ─ either that of income or multidimensional poverty ─ a certain proportion of those who are poor remain unrecognized.

By applying a logistic regression model, Chapter 4 (Essay 3) examines factors that predict multidimensional poverty and finds that the major factors predicting multidimensional poverty in China include household size, education level of the household head, health insurance coverage, geographic location, and the openness of the local economy. In order to alleviate multidimensional poverty, efforts should be targeted to (i) expand education opportunities for the household heads with low levels of education, (ii) develop appropriate geographic policies to narrow regional gaps and (iii) make macroeconomic policies work for the poor.