The percentage of poverty-stricken people in China's total population has
been declining steadily, a World Bank study has found, as the proportion of
people living on below US$1 a day dropped from 16 per cent to 10 per cent
between 2001 and 2004.
In this period, more than 60 million people climbed up and crossed the
poverty line, according to preliminary findings of the bank's Poverty Assessment
"This continues the very impressive record of poverty reduction in China,"
David Dollar, the World Bank's country director for China, said on Friday at a
By World Bank standards, the country has lifted approximately 500 million
people out of poverty since 1980. The bank's figures show that between 1990 and
2002, the latest year for which global poverty numbers are available, China
reduced the size of its poverty-stricken population by 200 million. This
represents more than 90 per cent of global poverty reduction.
"China's record in poverty reduction is extraordinary," Dollar said.
He said China's rapid economic growth has been an important driver of poverty
However, not everybody has benefited equally from the growth. Incomes of poor
groups have risen less than those of higher-income groups, Dollar said.
Furthermore, findings of the study suggest that earnings of those at the very
bottom of the income distribution ladder experienced a slight decline between
2001 and 2003.
Household surveys indicate that the average real income of households in the
lowest 10 per cent of the income distribution declined by 2.4 per cent, whereas
all other income groups enjoyed a gain.
Traditionally poverty in China can be largely attributed to laggard economic
growth, so in poverty alleviation the government focuses on helping poor areas
achieve more rapid growth.
This approach will remain important, Dollar said.
However, the project's findings indicate that the nature of poverty is
changing as the poverty rate declines.
The study found that about 70 per cent of the poor were temporarily in
poverty because of an "income shock" such as unemployment, injury, ill health or
This suggests further poverty reduction in China
requires not only measures that reach households with different types of
insurance such as health insurance and crop insurance, but also welfare
programmes supporting households in which no adults can work, Dollar