Poverty and Inequality Among Chinese Minorities

This book investigates poverty and inequality among Chinese ethnic minorities, focusing in particular on two important questions: Have the minorities shared the fruits of spectacular economic growth in China? Is their backwardness due to ethnic and cultural factors or to extremely low incomes?

Bhalla A.S. and Qiu Shufang, Poverty and Inequality Among Chinese Minorities, Routledge, 2006.

From the cover of the book: Despite recent economic advances, the number of poor people in China is huge. Chinese minorities constitute less than 10 per cent of the Chinese population yet they constitute 40 to 50 per cent of the poor. This book investigates poverty and inequality among Chinese ethnic minorities, focusing in particular on two important questions: Have the minorities shared the fruits of spectacular economic growth in China during the past two decades? Is their backwardness due to ethnic and cultural factors or to extremely low incomes?

The book examines the different factors explaining poverty; the relationship between poverty and ethnicity; poverty indicators that permit a comparison between minorities and non-minorities (or the Han majority); and economic and demographic characteristics of minorities and their educational, occupational and gender profiles. It considers whether special measures in favour of minorities introduced by the Chinese government have contributed to an improvement in their standard of living. International comparisons are made with other developing countries such as India, which also has substantial ethnic minorities and similar preferential policies.

Throughout, special attention is given to literacy and basic education and access to health services, showing that low literacy and poor access to health services aggravate poverty among Chinese minorities. The study concludes that poverty among minorities, lack of education and limited access to health services is due more to economic than ethnic or cultural factors. Overall, this book provides a detailed examination of a critical issue in contemporary Chinese society. It fills a gap in the existing economic literature, since no major work to date has dealt with the subject of poverty among Chinese ethnic minorities.


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