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Rural Poverty in China: Problem and Solution. Gregory C Chow Princeton University June 8, 2006. Outline. 1. Introduction 2. Economic Conditions of the Rural Population 3. Rural Poverty into Three Components 4. Chinese Government’s Solution

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rural poverty in china problem and solution

Rural Poverty in China: Problem and Solution

Gregory C Chow

Princeton University

June 8, 2006

outline
Outline
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Economic Conditions of the Rural Population
  • 3. Rural Poverty into Three Components
  • 4. Chinese Government’s Solution
  • 5. Two Policy Issues
  • 6. Conclusion
1 introduction

1. Introduction

Annual Per Capita Living Expenditure of Urban and Rural Households (Yuan)

disparity increased but consumption per capita increased
§ Disparity increased but consumption per capita increased
  • Measured by the standard deviation of log rural consumption per capita among provinces, the disparity has increased at the rate of about half a percentage point per year between 1981 and 1998, but the rate of increase has slowed down to 0.2 of a percentage point in the last 5 years of this period.
  • Significant increases in the level of real consumption per capita in all provinces: the slowest rate of increase is an average exponential rate of increase of 0.035 per year-Guizhou.

disparity as measured by the dispersion in

3 three components of the problem of rural poverty
3. Three Components of the Problem of Rural Poverty
  • Income gap between the urban and rural residents but per capita income of rural residents has increased in the order of 5.5 % per year since 1989; the percentage of rural residents with income below the poverty line has declined rapidly.
  • Unfavorable treatment by the central government: infrastructure building, welfare benefits and education.
  • Farmers’ rights have been violated by illegal activities of local government officials: illegal land seizure and tax levies.
violation of farmers rights to land
§ Violation of farmers’ rights to land
  • Chinese official and scholar Chen Xiwen (2006) writes:

“It is stipulated in our Constitution that in rural China, …land is collectively owned by farmers but contracted to individual households. However, at the grassroots level, few officials have read this provision, …Therefore, some grassroots officials constantly make troubles with farmers’ land, causing endless land contract conflicts.

statement of chen xiwen continued
Statement of Chen Xiwen - continued

(continued)Because of this, the Rural Land Contract Law was passed in March 2003 in which there are two basic regulations: (1) during the contract period, the contract granting party shall not be allowed to take back the contracted land; and (2) during the contract period, the contract-granting party shall not be allowed to adjust the contracted land. Neither regulation, however, has been well implemented.”

appeals upwards ignored farmers mistreated human rights violated
§ appeals upwards ignored; farmers mistreated; human rights violated

Zeng Ye-song (2004):

“Farmers in many places have limited right to information. Policies of the central government fail to reach the farmers. In some provinces policy documents to reduce taxation on farmers were not distributed to them. In some places, farmers were mistreated because the matter was not handled on time, and even suffered from subjugation which forced them to report to authorities above. However, many people in the government above believed only in the officials below and not in the farmers. They found small excuse to imprison the farmers, and even persecute those who dared to report to officials above.”

4 chinese government s solution no 1 document of february 2006
4. Chinese Government’s Solution §No.1 document of February 2006
  • Infrastructure building: provision of safe drinking water, clean energy supply and the construction of country roads.
  • A national support system for agriculture and the farmersconsisting of :

1) direct subsidies to grain

2) improvement of agricultural production and marketing,

3) facilitating the migration of rural labor by removing discriminative restrictions

4) increase in funding for the rural compulsory education system

5) training of farmers to make them well-educated and technologically literate

no 1 document of february 2006 continued
No.1 document of February 2006-Continued

6) a social assistance program covering 50 million people and four areas

7) more financial support for the new rural cooperative health care system - to set up a clinic in every village in the near future.

8) rural financial reform to provide agricultural insurance and easily accessible loans to farmers and small and medium enterprises.

  • Streamlining the functions of the multi-level government system (central, provincial, county, township and village): elimination of the operational functions of township governments within five years
two policy issues i
§ Two policy issues I
  • Incentive problem for township government officials to promote rural development

.Without the opportunities to benefit from rural development local government officials may resort, and many have resorted, to corruption or the obstruction of development projects.

.If reason for Item 3 is to prevent corruption, officials can be corrupt while dealing with private investors in their areas. Officials still have their power.

government rational for policy 1
§ Government rational for policy 1
  • Zeng Yesong (2004):

“Village and township enterprises should not be administered by Party secretary but operated (1) independently as private enterprises or (2) by government as state enterprises.”

  • Question:

If we accept the concept of state enterprises why does Document No. 1 not allow township and village governments to operate such enterprises?

two policy issues ii
§ Two policy issues - II
  • Need a specific policy to protect the rights of the farmers in the use of the land, in receiving wage payments and in freedom from illegal taxation.
  • In the interim the central government compensates the farmers by allocating funds from its own budget. (The central government has a practice of announcing a good policy like compulsory education for 9 years and leaving it to the local officials to follow through.)
government rational for policy 2
§ Government rational for policy 2
  • Zeng Yesong (2004) echoes Document No. 1 in

.taking away power of township government to extract from farmers;

.achieving the above by extending democracy up to the township level.

  • Possible drawbacks

.building democracy takes too long;

.providing law and order is the responsibility of the government and should not be relegated to the people;

.if elected village officials cannot protect the farmers’ rights how can elected township officials?

proposed alternative to policy 2
Proposed Alternative to Policy 2
  • 1. A strong anti-corruption policy to discipline offenders who violate the farmers’ rights by taking away their positions.
  • 2. Expose the offenders by using the news media.
  • The second component requires a higher degree of freedom of the press. The Party leadership has to be willing to do this in order to solve the third and most important component of the three-farm problem.
6 conclusion
6. Conclusion
  • The rural poverty problem has three components
  • 1. Income disparity between urban and rural residents.
  • 2. Government policy favoring the urban residents
  • 3. Violation of farmers’ rights by Party officials.
  • To solve the most important component 3, one needs
  • 1. A strong policy to disciplining the offenders;
  • 2. More freedom to the news media to expose the offenders.
  • 3. Compensation to the farmers by the central government using its own funds.