August 12, 2019
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New paper on urban elite transformation in China, 1988-2013

This new paper by Li Yang, Filip Novokmet and Branko Milanovic studies social transformations in urban China between 1988 and 2013. For the first time, harmonized household surveys covering the period 1988-2013 are used to study the changes in the characteristics of the richest 5 percent of China’s urban population. The authors find that the elite changed from being composed of high government officials, clerical staff, and workers in 1988 to professionals and small and large business owners in 2013. The educational level of the elite increased substantially. Membership in the Chinese Communist Party has a positive (albeit small) effect on one’s income but is particularly valuable to large business owners.

Social composition of the top 5% (percentage of individuals)