Authors: Li Yang, Filip Novokmet, and Branko Milanovic

Institution: Working Paper. no. 2019/10

Date: 2019


Economic and social transformation of China during the past 40 years is without precedent in human history. While the economic transformation was extensively studied, social transformation was not. In this paper, we use for the first time harmonized household surveys covering the period 1988-2013 to study the changes in the characteristics the richest 5 percent of China’s urban population.We find that the elite changed from being composed of high government officials, clerical staff, and workers in 1988 to professionals and small and large business owners in 2013. The educational level of the elite increased substantially. Membership in CCP has a positive (albeit small) effect on one’s income but is particularly valuable to large business owners.

Link: From Workers to Capitalists in Less Than Two Generations: A Study of Chinese Urban Elite Transformation Between 1988 and 2013 (PDF)

Related Commentary: LSE Business Review: From Workers to Capitalists in Less than Two Generations: The Chinese Urban Elite