Inequality of Opportunity in China's Labor Earnings: The Gender Dimension

23 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2019

See all articles by Jane Golley

Jane Golley

Australian National University (ANU) - Faculty of Economics & Commerce; Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy

Yixiao Zhou

Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy

Meiyan Wang

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Date Written: January–February 2019

Abstract

This paper investigates the inequality of opportunity in China's labor earnings, defined as the component of inequality determined by personal circumstances that lie beyond the control of an individual, of which gender is one, as opposed to the component determined by personal efforts. Using the Survey of Women's Social Status in China (2010), we measure the share of inequality of opportunity in the total inequality of individual labor earnings for people aged 26–55 years, and separately for six birth cohorts and for female and male subsamples. Gender is revealed as the single most important circumstance determining nationwide individual labor earnings, with one's region of residence, father's occupation, father's education, birth cohort and holding rural or urban hukou also playing significant roles. A further investigation into the roles of circumstances and personal efforts (including education level, occupation, Communist Party membership, migration and marital status) confirms that circumstances play an alarmingly high role in shaping labor earnings distribution in China, and reveals notable gender differences that cannot be attributed to personal effort alone. These results provide the basis for recommending ways to improve gender equality of opportunity in the future.

Keywords: China, gender, inequality of opportunity

JEL Classification: D31, D63, J16

Suggested Citation

Golley, Jane and Zhou, Yixiao and Wang, Meiyan, Inequality of Opportunity in China's Labor Earnings: The Gender Dimension (January–February 2019). China & World Economy, Vol. 27, Issue 1, pp. 28-50, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3317009 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cwe.12266

Jane Golley (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) - Faculty of Economics & Commerce ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy

ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
J.G. Crawford Building, #132, Lennox Crossing
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

Yixiao Zhou

Australian National University (ANU) - Crawford School of Public Policy ( email )

7 Liversidge Street
Lennox Crossing
Canberra, ACT 0200
Australia

Meiyan Wang

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) ( email )

Institute of Population and Labor Economics
Beijing 100732
China

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