Income and consumption inequality in China
A comparative approach with India
We analyse income and expenditure distribution in China in a comparative perspective with India. These countries represent extreme cases in the relationship of inequality to both wellbeing indicators. Income is more highly concentrated than expenditure in India, especially at the top of the distribution. Both types of inequality are similar in China, although expenditure is more unequally distributed than income in urban areas.
China has a much stronger correlation in individual ranks and levels between the two wellbeing distributions. As a result, expenditure inequality is higher in China than in India, but income inequality much lower. This results partially from differences in population composition, such as China being more urbanized and having smaller households, but mostly from differences in conditional income distributions, especially by attained education of the household head.
We show that hybrid measures of wellbeing combining income and expenditure can be useful for such cross-country comparison.