This week China raised its rural poverty line to 2,300 yuan a year. It's about time. China's official definition of poverty has traditionally been quite miserly. In a 2008 paper Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion of the World Bank noted that China's rural poverty line was "one of the lowest lines in the developing world".
本周，中国提升了农村贫困线， 每年2300元。该是时候（调整）了。中国官方定义的贫困标准向来是相当吝啬的。在2008年的一篇论文中，世界银行的陈绍华（音译）和Martin Ravallion注意到 ，中国的农村贫困线是"发展中国家最低的贫困线之一。"
So how generous is 2,300 yuan by international standards?
Some news reports (see here) implied that China's new line still falls below the World Bank's global poverty standard of $1.25 a day. That seems obvious: 2,300
yuan per year is 6.3 yuan per day, or a little less than $1 at today's exchange rate.
But the World Bank's poverty line is not set at market exchange rates. It's $1.25 in 2005 Purchasing-Power-Parity (PPP) dollars. By the World Bank's definition, you
are poor if your purchasing power (ie, your command over goods and services) is less than that of an American subsisting on $1.25 a day in 2005.
That's simplifying a bit, because international comparisons of purchasing power are fraught with difficulties. Fish, for example, is an abundant staple in coastal
countries but an expensive treat in landlocked, mountainous regions. If you found a Bolivian enjoying the same amount of fish as a Chilean, you should not conclude
that the two are equally well off. Likewise, the hilsa is a middle-class favourite in Bangladesh, but an out-of-stock specialty item in America. Only rich Americans
can eat as much hilsa as middle-class Bangladeshis. Nonetheless, in theory, the international poor consume the same amount as an American living on $1.25 a day in 2005.
This point is I think still poorly understood. When people hear that almost 1.4 billion (1,374m) people live on less than a $1.25 a day, they comfort themselves
with the thought that a dollar stretches much further in a poor country than it does in America. They may have fond memories of backpacking around India or
Guatemala on a shoestring during their younger days. But that is false comfort.
The World Bank knows full well that a dollar packs more punch in a poor country. When it says someone is living on $1.25 a day, it means they are living on what
that would buy you in America in 2005, not what it would buy you in Guatemala, India or China.
Once that's understood, how does China's new poverty line stack up? To make the comparison, you have to account for differences in purchasing power over time, as
well as between countries. China's poverty line is set at 2010 prices. Thanks to inflation, 6.3 yuan in 2010 bought only as much as 5.46 yuan in 2005.
That adjusts for time, what about place? According to the World Bank, 5.46 yuan in China in 2005 stretched about as far as $1.33 in America in the same year. (That's
using the 2005 consumption PPP rate of 4.089.) So by that calculation, China's new poverty line is eight cents higher than the World Bank's.
调整得是时候，而地点呢？根据世界银行，5.46元在中国2005年大概相当于同年美国的1.33美元。 （应用2005年消费购买力平价汇率4.089 ） ，因此，通过计算，中国的贫困线比世界银行标准高了八美分。
However, China deems a person poor if their income is less than $1.33 (at 2005 PPP) a day. The World Bank says they're poor if their consumption is less than
$1.25 a day. The difference between income and consumption is saving. So if someone consumes $1.24 and saves 9 cents, they are poor by the World Bank's
definition, but not by China's. That might make China's definition of poverty more stringent than the World Bank's.
But that's not the end of it. In China, the PPP estimates are biased. They are based on an international comparison of prices overseen by the World Bank but
carried out by China's National Bureau of Statistics. It looked at prices in 11 Chinese cities. But China's cities are much more expensive than China's villages. Some effort was made to correct for this, but not enough. Shaohua Chen and Martin Ravallion argue that the price level the NBS reported was 37% higher than the
rural prices China's villagers face.
If that's the case, then China's new poverty line is equivalent not to $1.33 per day, but to $1.83 per day (1.334*1.37) in 2005 $PPP. That is comfortably higher
than the World Bank's global standard. But it's still a miserable existence.
如果是这样的话，那么中国的新贫困线相当于不是1.33美元每天，而是每天1.83美元（1.334 * 1.37）对照于2005年的（美元）购买力平价 。这要明显的高于世界银行
guest-iijslnmDec 3rd 2011, 00:05 60顶
I am living in rural China as a primary school English teacher, and am close friends with the family of one of my brightest and most hard-working students, Lauren. They have six children (the one child policy is not enforced here) and live in a one bedroom shack on school grounds. The family's income is 1,700 RMB/month, which is considered poor according to the new poverty definition. However, this amount is certainly enough to feed the family and survive while the children are young (currently they are 1 -10 years old). What concerns me is when the children reach high school age, when education is not free or mandatory. At this point, families like Lauren's simply can't afford to send all these kids to high school, let alone college.
Is this poverty? I've been thinking about this for a while...Lauren's family has more than enough to exist, but not nearly enough to help their children advance into a modern economy. It certainly provides an argument to China to step up funding high school, or to increase scholarships to bright students and their families.
New Conservative 回复 SinomanDec 2nd 2011, 14:03 56顶
Worldwide 1.374 billion people live on less than 1.25$. In China, the number is 208 million.
jomiku 回复 SinomanDec 2nd 2011, 15:25 49顶
Sinoman, 1.4 billion people, not Chinese. Read it over again.
shaun39Dec 2nd 2011, 11:43 46顶
Classifications are only meaningful where they support targeted intervention, or where they offer particular insight.
In the case of vague, nominal income based poverty lines, the definition is completely vacuous. It's not a measure of incomes; it's not a measure of income distributions; it's certainly not a good measure of living standards, and it isn't a tool for targeting intervention.
Really, why bother?
Stick to education targets, infrastructure targets, employment support, etc. At least there, clumsy government metrics have some bearing on the allocation of government funding. But poverty lines are about as much use as star signs.
rep3Dec 3rd 2011, 10:12 45顶
>But the World Bank's poverty line is not set at market exchange rates. It's $1.25 in 2005 Purchasing-Power-Parity (PPP) dollars. By the World Bank's definition, you are poor if your purchasing power (ie, your command over goods and services) is less than that of an American subsisting on $1.25 a day in 2005.
This is the crux of the problem. PPP is measured through identical goods in different countries, but for the truly impoverished, there is no identical good.
A poor America may still own a car, but it takes a middle class Vietnamese to own a scooter. An average British family may own a washing machine, but a Bedouin tribe in Sudan definitely will not. And this is only comparing the lower middle class.
When it comes to those below poverty line, subsistence farming + barter rules the day in the country side while low paying labour jobs support those in urban shanties. There is no easy way to statistically measure poverty between countries in cases like this.
SinomanDec 2nd 2011, 13:42 44顶
"When people hear that almost 1.4 billion (1,374m) people live on less than a $1.25 a day".
This saying is not true. Are all chinese live everyday under 1.25$???? Apparently not.
2300￥ is just a lever for poverity!
when i read this sentence, I could not continue to read this passage!~
i suggest the writer think something more carefully!
Rudy HaugenederDec 3rd 2011, 11:48 41顶
As much as I try, I can't picture living on so little money. It is impossible, no matter how hard I try. I see the images found online or on television, but I can't relate. Just impossible. Hell, I can't even relate to homelessness that surround me every time I drive through downtown Victoria, BC, Canada: dozens of people begging, wandering. I see. I talk to them, joke and laugh and share a cigarette. But I can't relate to their plight, no matter how much I try, even though I fully understanding it could easily -- too easily -- happen to me, even though Statistics Canada figures say that compared to others, I live in poverty, even as I sit in my comfortable home in the middle of the night, drinking a decaf coffee, smoking a cigarette, eating a peanut butter sandwich, typing on my older laptop, feeling guilty about driving an old Lexus, and not being able to relate to living on $1.25 daily. I guess I must be mentally ill. If there is reincarnation, perhaps I will understand some day.
How about you? Any problems relating?
PL123Dec 2nd 2011, 19:04 39顶
I am sure there are many poor rich Americans. :D
compal 回复 PL123Dec 4th 2011, 08:27 4顶
Very much so when it comes to taxation.
fundamentalistDec 2nd 2011, 15:46 37顶
Poverty at that level is hard for those in the US to imagine.
ginmartiniDec 3rd 2011, 01:22 36顶
I assume food that is grown and eaten is not counted as income. Is that correct?
rewt66 回复 fundamentalistDec 2nd 2011, 18:11 36顶
$1.25 a day? You *might* be able to eat on that amount - if you ate potatoes and beans. Not a balanced diet, though. Shelter? Forget it. And that means you have nowhere to cook your potatoes. Clothes? Only if you went to a second-hand store, and even then, it means you don't eat...
pasamDec 2nd 2011, 22:55 35顶
The Economist appears to be more fair in the study of poverty in China. One factor that was not considered is the "CRY IN THE DEVELOPED WORLD" that the Yuan is highly overvaluecd. The Economist should have evaluated how true is that CRY? If there is any truth in that CTY, that truth goes in favour of China fighting poverty at home. I remember a survey where the Economist said that 86% of Chinese population feels that their government is moving in the right direction and the next best in the World was Brazil with 50%! Was that a yardstick of "DEMOCRACY" ?
Bill88888888 回复 guest-iijslnmDec 3rd 2011, 10:31 32顶
The family you described must be minorities in China that one-child policy does not apply. Usually, the oldest child will start to work once free schooling is over at grade 9. Then there are three incomes for the family so they can afford to pay for higher education of other siblings.
Adam MorganDec 2nd 2011, 18:14 32顶
I'm not convinced that this is a better way. From my experience, of looking at statistics of who is poor -- and who is middle class -- almost all governments want to minimize the number of poor and maximize the number in the middle class.
A better way, than a quantitative definition, is a sampling of the general population and the target population (in this case, the poor) and simply ask: "Do you think you're poor?"
I'm sure if this were asked in China, the results would be significantly different than the quantitative definition.
keller377 回复 SinomanDec 3rd 2011, 01:29 31顶
Where exactly does the article say all Chinese are under the World Bank's poverty line?
Joseph Tan 回复 fundamentalistDec 3rd 2011, 04:33 30顶
It is relative. There are also poverty stricken people in America,
Bill88888888Dec 3rd 2011, 10:22 29顶
The article states at the end "But it's still a miserable existence."
Of course, in general there is nothing more miserable than being poor and not enough to eat. However, it is comfortable to know that the poverty line is higher than the international norm.
VLHCDec 2nd 2011, 16:08 29顶
Beijing might consider poverty to be a bad thing, but as far as certain religious leaders are concerned, it is the essence of their culture, so it is conceivable some might see this as an attempt at justifying further "cultural genocides".
Bill88888888 回复 Joseph TanDec 3rd 2011, 10:24 25顶
There are also poverty stricken people in America. However, because of social safety system, the social welfare subsidize the poor to average living standard for the poorest.
burgess2135Dec 2nd 2011, 20:23 25顶
Economist in Dec. says that Chinese government raised its poverty line to 2300 yuan per year. It is shocking, partially because this is the first time for me to acknowledge this from a seemingly formal source. Former data about the poverty issues in China bat around on the net, but hardly believable. The real poverty status quo never comes from the central government, except various poverty lines in local channels and their improvement. Today, there it is. It is good news, isn't?
New Conservative 回复 east windDec 4th 2011, 22:39 22顶
You remember that I'm an American. For the entire time I've lived in Taiwan Chen Suibian has been in prison. I don't like the DPP because I'm a big fan of the ROC's current flag.
And unlike you I've actually been to the rural school and stayed there for a few weeks, not just seen one on TV. The people and the teachers do a great job with limited resources.
But the resources are limited. They can't charge extra for admission, but they are allowed to charge for things like textbooks, pencils, or other school supplies.
For rural farmers with an annual income of 1200 yuan, a 100 yuan text book fee is a big deal. I don't fault the schools, they aren't making some sort of profit off of it, just that they have an unfunded mandate that they have to make up somehow.
That they still have to do it when China is sitting on that much money is a deeper question.
east windDec 6th 2011, 05:13 20顶
@ New Conservative
Chinese people all over the world ----whether in New York, or Kunming, or Montreal, or Paris--- places the top priority for the education of their children
Millions of stories throughout the history of the Chinese, including those who are immigrants about the parents sacrifiging everything for their children's education
In China today--- the Govt strongly believes that education is the KEY to the future
Every Chinese Govt official knows that Premier WEN is very particular about the education and welfare of Chinese children
Any govt official who do not carry out the Govt to perfect the educational system will get into serious serious trouble
This Chinese obsession with the education of the young is something you WILL NEVER EVER understand --- I know I am wasting my time trying to explain this phenomenon
You will never ever understand...
@ New Conservative
xPeruDec 6th 2011, 19:49 19顶
I did the calculations to work out how much I'd have to earn if I was back in the UK in order to buy what I buy here in Peru on $20,000 a year.
The answer: ￡140,000 a year.
The big ramp ups were school fees - I have two kids in private schools; cigarettes and housing. Eating out in restaurants. going to the cinema, and food shopping are all about 300% more expensive in the UK. Transport is about 15x more expensive.
Official ppp figures might work for the poor, but it is about 10x cheaper to live in Peru than the UK if you have a middle class lifestyle.
The price of the freedom I have in Peru as opposed to the tyranny in UK is priceless.
east windDec 5th 2011, 00:04 19顶
@ New Conservative
Stop spreading mis-information
Stop making up stories
During our university days---we had to spend some time ---working in the poor countryside
If any school ever goes short of funds ---the School's headmaster would apply to the Education Department for more money
And they will definitely 100% get it
CHINA IS Determined to invest BIG, BIG into education
CHINA have a twin prong of (1) developing a super education (2) Massive urbanization
As I said---You Taiwanese Separatists will never give up demonizing China
Its better you guys visit your leader Chen Shui Bian in Prison---he's lonely
east windDec 4th 2011, 14:06 19顶
@ New Conservative
Stop making up stories to spread anti-China propaganda
You Taiwanese Separarists of the "Chen Shui-Bian" Clique will do or say anything to disredit China
CHINA has a law that makes a FREE 9-year education compulsary
The punishment for any school charging extra fees are very severe
NO school in would even dare to charge any fees
All the village-level CPC Party cadres are ever vigilant to nab any school staff who dares to break the LAW
Yingnam FongDec 4th 2011, 13:00 18顶
30 years ago, probably more than 80% of the Chinese population lived below the poverty line. Not it is less than 20%. It has been a super mega work done to change that. Such amazing attainment could not have been done by any other men except the technocrats of CCP, China. China can now proudly show to the world the reckoned rate though it has made no clear commitment as to when the poverty can be narrow down to a single digit. Anyway, its all amazing to see the China's miracle once and again.
PL123 回复 New ConservativeDec 5th 2011, 19:12 17顶
I am not from Mainland China. I have no idea of such law.
Do you think he/she will read it. I seldom read his post!!
Anyway, the law of China are written so perfect but to enforce it is just too difficult. Well sometimes in Germany is not better, at least they try. The Chinese government and the people need re-education on moral, may be 墨子 theory can help China. They are more communism and practical than Confucius. Confucius was just too pretentious, even hypocritical IMO. I know ewakorn will argue about that...
无论如何，中国法律写的很完美但是实施起来太困难。额，有时候在德国(法律)的情况也不咋地，但至少他们尝试了。中国政府和人民需要在道德方面重新接受教育，或许墨子理论能够帮助中国。他们比孔子更加共产主义和更加实际。在我看来，孔子有些太自命不凡了，甚至伪善。我知道关于这件事上 ewakorn 将会去辩论...
hmmmmmmmDec 5th 2011, 06:54 17顶
A better measurement would be calorie intake, purchase and ownership of products. Rural people in China like rural people everywhere don't spent money besides the town market. Most of the consumables, such as food and simple services are either provided by themselves or barter at the village level.
They are still poor, but it's always funny when people in the developed country think about the $1.25/day are spent buying food or pay rent...which are very urban type of expenses.
silent night 回复 smallguineaDec 8th 2011, 20:11 16顶
You don't need to waste your time to talk about the poor in China with east wind,because "east wind" don't believe anything if it is bad for China.
But what east wind said that "The schoolbus accident you described happened in an urban area---not in the rural" is sure.
As to your wrote"BBC TV Documentary show a teenage Chinese girl living in the rural having to walk several miles through country-roads to get to her school which have only 5 students.This school was not closed down"
------In some poor rural areas,it is possible that schoolboys and schoolgirls walk several miles through country-roads to get to her school,but a 5-students-school is unimaginable although it also is possible for some special reason.If the public media report,something will get an improvement,after all,in improving education area,most people and organizations will pay more attention than any others.
你不需要浪费时间在同 east wind 谈论中国的贫困问题上，因为"east wind"不相信任何关于中国负面的新闻。但是east wind所说的"你所描述的校车事故不是发生在农村而是市郊"是事实。
east windDec 5th 2011, 15:55 16顶
@ New Conservative
When the Chinese farmer's land is being acquired for development-- he will be given another piece of land----plus some money as compensation
@ New Conservative
PL123 回复 east windDec 5th 2011, 13:22 16顶
In fact, it is true there are still LOT of rural farmer's children can't go to school for some reasons. Parents ignore their right to go to school, parents want to use children to beg for money, parents thinking girl are useless and force them to help housework, school is too far away.
Even in big cities you can see little girl beggers begging for money. May be you cn said that they are criminal organized crime. Yes, until CPC there are so many criminals. Under Mao seems no one dare to do criminal things.
I am not such a person deny children work in factory (that is Western standard). I think they can be allowed to work in factory to help family financial problem, but not as a adult worker. Half day work half day school is totally fine with me.
In principe you are correct that CPC gave farmer land to farm, but many of them has no government certificate to prove that they own the land. Or even worse the provincial government force them in the name of advance/progress away with lousy compensation.
Remember CPC was a farmer party, now CPC is capitalist control. Another 5% when not 1%.
Take it easy mate. :D
Recently I saw a picture of a chinese teacher peddling children on a boat from one end of the lake to the other end. It is like a school bus. He is a real Chinese Hero !! We need more of this people, not those chinese newly rich who enjoy sunny day in California!! And certainly not those using black money to visit Oxford, Harvard or MIT etc etc.貪官:官職與收入不相稱
smallguinea 回复 east windDec 6th 2011, 13:23 15顶
The school bus incident happened in Gansu, in the boonies.
PL123 回复 east windDec 5th 2011, 16:42 15顶
I think you are wrong! The farmer will be compensated for a huge sum and he doesn't have to work anymore. :D
east windDec 5th 2011, 10:53 13顶
I wrote that every FARMER --- and I mean every FARMER had been given his own lot of land to farm for FREE
He gets a land and a house
(Under the 1978 "Family Responsibility System" the "Farm-Collectives" gave every member of its own Disbanded Commune a piece of land ---whose size was based on the size of the family)
He can gets 3 meals a day without any problem
NOT ONLY THAT...
The "Land-Distribution" program was so successful that it created a farm-surplus labor of 250 million "Migrant workers"
These migrant workers go to the cities to work and to make some extra incomes for their families back home on the farms
It's true that they have only the basics --- and not the luxuries like cars, holidays to Europe or holidays houses in the French Riveria
As such they are classified as poor
east windDec 5th 2011, 05:38 15顶
@ New Conservative
China can afford to finance the FREE 9-year compulsary education
The monies for the maintainance of all schools are already being budgetted for
As I had said---any school that require the neccessary operating expences can apply for it---and they can get it
Use your common sense---
If China can afford to invest USD 2 trillion into AMerican debt instruments---she can easily afford to fund her schools
The Chinese Govt is 1000% committed and determined to build up a super superb educational system
And will spare no efforts to achieve it
Stop spreading mis-information
AS far as I know---there are NO programs in China that sends Western teachers to the remote areas that you claimed to have been sent
There are simply NO SUCH programs
You are making up "grand-mother" stories / fairy tales to shoot China down a peg or two
east windDec 4th 2011, 14:11 15顶
@ New Conservative
The BBC TV Documentary Programmes had even shown such a school that you described as being in the most remote poorest area
AND the BBC TV had faithfully/truthfully shown how these poor people children get an education without having to pay any fees---because the Chinese Govt allocated enough funds to finance the school
CHINA has USD 3.2 trillion in the forex reserves
tocharianDec 12th 2011, 00:30 14顶
The Great Helmsman said:
"The feudal landlord class was the main social base of imperialist rule in China, while the peasants were the main force of the Chinese revolution. If help was not given to the peasants in overthrowing the feudal landlord class, then a strong force of the Chinese revolution could not be organized to overthrow imperialist rule. Therefore, the peasant problem becomes the basic problem of the Chinese revolution. In order to lead the Chinese revolution to victory, the proletariat had to mobilize and arm the peasants, carry out the land revolution and build solid revolutionary base areas in the countryside"
east windDec 6th 2011, 09:17 14顶
I stand by what I said--- and I am entitled to express my opinion here---that's called "FREEDOM Of EXPRESSION"
You are entitled to disagree just as I am entitled to express my opinion
Nobody is forcing you to agree
Please express what you feel like expressing