The European Journal of Comparative Economics

ISSN: 1824-2979

EJCE Year: 2004, June. Volume: 1 - Issue: 1

The Experience of Rising Inequality in Russia and China during the Transition

by James K. Galbraith ; Ludmila Krytynskaia ; Qifei Wang

Start page: 87 - End page: 106

Keywords: Inequality; Russia; China; Provinces; Sectors

Jel code: C82; D39; P27; P52

Abstract:

This paper examines the changes in regional and sectoral inequality that accompanied economic transformation in Russia and China throughout the 1990s. The experiences of the two countries are widely viewed as having been polar opposites. While the Soviet collapse had adverse consequences for many parts of the post-Soviet population, the Chinese experience produced a continuing rise of average living standards. Nevertheless, both countries experienced a drastic increase in economic inequality. In both cases, regional inequalities rose more sharply than inequalities across sectors but within regions. In particular, major urban centers gained dramatically relative to the hinterlands. Also, in Russia as in China, those sectors exercising the largest degrees of monopoly power gained the most (or lost the least) in relative terms. In both countries, the respective position of finance improved greatly, while that of agriculture declined. The decline of agriculture in China, however, was not as precipitous as in Russia, and certain sectors, such as education and science, maintained their position in China in a way that was not possible for them in Russia.

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