The dilemma of identifying absolute poverty in China and its possible solutions

Stream: Chinese social policy: poverty reduction
Date: Tuesday, 10 September 2019
Time: 10.55 am – 12.35 pm


In the implementation of Rural Minimum Income Guarantee (Dibao) in China, the problems of excluding the deserving people and benefiting the undeserving has been a core issue. However, most studies only focus on the external factors that may affect the targeting performance, ignoring the poverty identifying practices of“street-level bureaucrats”.

This paper answers three questions:
1) which indicators are better at avoiding targeting errors
2) the relationship between official indicators and local circumstances
3) how to avoid the capture of poverty reduction staff.

We use a national survey dataset collected by the Ministry of Civil Affair's Policy Research Center in 2017 to carry out multi variable regression and find that when a cause of poverty is more difficult to hide, it is less likely to cause mistargeting. When the poorer villagers do not care about rural public affairs, it is more likely to mistarget.

Based on these analyses, we suggest that there should be a better signaling mechanism for poverty identification and encourage the poorer villagers to be more engaged with community governance in order to monitor the behavior of rural elites.


Chao An (Presenter), Policy Research Center, Ministry of Civil Affair of the People's Republic of China
An Chao ,Doctor of Political Science, joined Policy Research Center, Ministry of Civil Affair of the People's Republic of China in 2016, and engaged in social assistance policy research. Main research interest is China social policy , economics of the welfare state and comparative political economy .