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Urban Poverty In China Essay

2019 words - 9 pages

Over the past two decades, China has experienced rapid economic growth, which has also brought about a rise in social and economic inequality. A nation that once operated under the principle of egalitarianism, China now struggles with a level of inequality that has surpassed most of its East Asia neighbours. In the 1980’s, poverty was a problem restricted mainly to rural areas, but recently it has forayed into urban areas as well. Since the mid-1990’s, urban poverty has grown at a very fast pace under the influence of globalization (Fulong, Webster, and Yuting 5). The economic restructuring of China is a huge contributor to this phenomenon. The Chinese government officially recognized urban poverty as a problem in 2001 through a report prepared by the State Council (Fulong, Webster, and Yuting 15). The report was also an acknowledgement that the nation faced a new challenge on the implementation of social policies.
Urban poverty arises from changes in the institutional models of crucial consumption areas such as housing, healthcare, and education combined with loss of urban space rights that occur during land appropriation. Despite the economic progress that China continues to experience, some negative externalities have arisen. The income gap continues to widen, there is a reduction in social welfare, and unemployment is on the rise (Fulong, Webster, and Yuting 21). There has been a surge in urban poor whose primary composition is unemployed individuals, laid-off workers, urban migrants, and retired labourers. The violation of their civil rights and the government’s inability to remedy the social problems in their areas further aggravates their economic inadequacy (Fei 17).
The urban poor in China are categorized into two: the old and the new urban poor. The two categories have three noteworthy differences. First, the new urban poor are significantly larger in number compared to the old urban poor as a result of a rise in inequality. Therefore, there is a bigger contrast between the rich and poor in present China as compared to previous times. Secondly, the old urban poor were mainly comprised of people who were unable to work. This is in stark contrast to the new urban poor as most are willing and able to work but lack employment (Fulong, Webster, and Yuting 23). Historically, the huge per capita income disparity between residents in urban areas and their rural counterparts meant that poverty was mainly a rural problem (Fei 17). This leads to the third difference: people in rural areas were disadvantaged by government policies that had a bias for the urban populace. The urban area policies imposed restrictions on urban–rural migration. It further provided subsidies to persons living in urban areas while neglecting those in the rural areas. Urban poverty gradually developed into a real problem for China during the 1990s when the government could no longer manage to maintain its subsidy and job guarantee programs (Wanlong and Wong 28). ...

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