October 2008

IZA DP No. 3791: Temporary and Persistent Poverty among Ethnic Minorities and the Majority in Rural China

published in: Review of Income and Wealth, 2009, 55 (s1), 588-606

Poverty among ethnic minorities and the majority in rural China for the years 2000, 2001 and 2002 is investigated taking a dynamic view and using a large sample covering 22 provinces. Based on the National Bureau of Statistics' low income line, almost one-third of the ethnic minorities experienced poverty during the three years studied while the corresponding proportion among the ethnic majority was only about half as high. Still, by far most of the poor in rural China belong to the ethnic majority. The relatively high poverty rates for ethnic minorities in rural China are found to be due to higher rates of entry than for the majority, while differences in exit rates across ethnicities are few. To a large extent, ethnic poverty differences can be attributed to differences in location together with temporary and persistent poverty in rural China having a very clear spatial character. Poverty is concentrated to the western region and villages with low average income. Determinants of persistent and temporary poverty in rural China differ due to location as well as household characteristics.