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Beijing to release wealth gap index


08:30, January 21, 2013

BEIJING - Beijing will release its own Gini coefficient for 2012, a National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Beijing survey branch spokesman said Sunday.

Gini coefficient, or Gini index, is used to measure income inequality, with a figure of 0 representing equality and 1 inequality.

Xing Zhihong, the spokesman, said that China's statistics departments used to publish two indexes -- the per capita disposable income of urban residents and the per capita net income of rural residents -- to reflect income distribution.

"However, we will act according to the schedule of relevant departments and carry out unified investigation into the income of both urban and rural residents, and publish the Gini number in a timely manner," Xing said at a press conference.

Beijing is the first city in the country to announce it will be releasing a Gini coefficient.

According to original indexes, in 2012, per capita disposable income of urban residents in Beijing was 36,469 yuan ($5,864). Per capita net income of rural residents was 16,476 yuan ($2,650).

On Friday, China released the index for 2012, saying that the Gini coefficient reached 0.474, higher than the warning level of 0.4 set by the United Nations.

The index has retreated gradually since peaking at 0.491 in 2008, dropping to 0.49 in 2009, 0.481 in 2010 and 0.477 in 2011, according to NBS calculations.

"The statistics highlight the urgency for our country to speed up income distribution reforms to narrow the gap," Ma Jiantang, NBS director said on Friday.

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