Wealth gap continues to rise: Report

By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-02-02 07:12

Wealth disparity has been growing despite government efforts to stop the trend, according to the national economic planner.

Salaries have grown steadily in the past 15 years but the income gap continues to rise, the National Development and Reform Commission said on its website on Wednesday.

The report said the disparity between urban and rural residents as well as farmers and urbanites is widening.

The income of urban residents was 3.2 times that of farmers for the past three years, an "alarming" situation compared with other countries, said Su Hainan, director of the wage research center affiliated to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.

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Figures for 2005 said that the income of the top 10 percent of urban earners is 9.2 times than that of the bottom 10 percent, up from 8.9 times the previous year. Among farmers, the income of the top 10 percent was greater than the bottom 10 percentile by a factor of 7.3, up from 6.9 the previous year.

Income differences are also sector-sensitive, the report said.

Those in the finance, insurance, post and communications as well as electricity and oil trade industries experienced much faster increases in salary than those working in the mining, construction, agriculture and forestry sectors.

"State-owned monopoly businesses contributed to the widening gap," Su said.

Despite the overall income increase, the wages of migrant workers remain generally low. The average monthly salary is 780 yuan ($100), with those in the eastern parts of the country earning 14 percent more than those in the west.

Su said it is imperative to raise the income of low earners.

"Job training and legal enforcement against wage default are needed to improve migrant workers' income," Su said.

(China Daily 02/02/2007 page1)

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