Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. World
  2. Asia
23 August 2021updated 04 Apr 2022 7:30pm

China’s income inequality is among the world’s worst

The gap between the rich and poor in China is almost as huge as in the US. 

By Nicu Calcea

Despite the global recession triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, China has managed to largely avoid the economic fallout. It reported a rise in GDP of 7.9 per cent for the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same period the year before – much higher than most developed nations. 

With annual growth rates averaging 10 per cent over the past 30 years, China has become the world’s fastest-growing major economy and the second largest economy overall behind the US. 

But while this rapid expansion has lifted millions out of poverty, it has also widened the gap between the country’s richest and poorest.

China is more unequal than almost all Western countries
Latest available Gini (income inequality) coefficient, where higher figures = more inequality

World Bank estimates of the Gini coefficient – an economic measure showing the level of income inequality in a country – put China among the most unequal major global economies, behind most of Europe, but ahead of the US. 

Chinese officials have vowed address these inequalities, with President Xi Jinping stressing the need for “common prosperity” in a speech last week, and pledging to create “conditions that are more inclusive and fair” and to “adjust excessive incomes”. 

Among the first victims of the Chinese government’s new focus on workplace culture is Kweichow Moutai, the world’s largest liquor company and one of the most recognisable symbols of wealth among Chinese elites, which was criticised by China’s top anti-corruption watchdog earlier this month. 

Content from our partners
Musidora Jorgensen: Sustainability is good for business
How to navigate the modern cyber-threat landscape
Supporting customers through the cost of living crisis
Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.