08/09/2007, 00.00
CHINA - ASIA
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The economic gap threatens Chinese stability

The rapid growth in the economy in China and in Asia has benefited above all the rich who have become increasingly richer, alleviating only a small minority of the hundreds of millions of poor. Beijing is developing along Latin American lines, with a pending crises in social stability.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Asia’s rapid economic growth has hidden an even more rapid increase in the economic and social inequality.  The situation is serious in China, which the income gap is the largest on the continent, following Nepal and is fast reaching Latin American levels, according to data released by the Asian Development Bank (Adb). This inequality is threatening the nation’s development and social harmony.

The mainland's Gini coefficient reached 0.473 at the end of 2004, up from 0.407 in 1993.  But China Youth Daly puts it at 0.496. The Gini scale ranges from 0 (perfect equality) to 1 (perfect inequality. 0.4 indicates an alarming social wealth gap, while scores in the high 0.40s may represent a threat to social stability. The income gap is even more alarming because it is fed by a complete division between the rapid growth of the cities and the economic stagnation of rural areas; between the frenetic developments of the eastern coast compared to inland areas.

The problem is widespread in Asia : in India the coefficient was 0.362 in 2004 (up from 0,329 in 1993). The Adb confirms that the rapid development, while benefiting above all the rich, it also helped alleviate the situation of many poor.  The income gap is also a problem in countries where general inequality has diminished such as Indonesia and Malaysia. In these countries too, the gap between 20% of the richest and the poorest of the population has widened.

 

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