The most interesting points from the paper by Yang, Novokmet and @BrankoMilan on China elite's transformation 1988-2013 forthcoming in British Journal of Sociology.…
"The percentage of people among the top [richest] 5 percent whose incomes are private sector related increased from 5% in 1988 to almost 40% in 2013."
"The rising importance of private and individual
business owners among the top 5% is due to an overall increase in the numbers of capitalists, who also tend to be much richer than the average person, rather than the product of an exceptional enrichment of business owners as such"
"In 2013, the Eastern urban region had an income level some 40 percent higher than the Center and the West."
But that is not a new feature:
"The remarkable stability in the regional distribution of the top 5 percenters: while the composition of the top 5 percenters’ income, their social structure, and education have all changed in a remarkable fashion, the geographical concentration has not been much affected".
CCP membership:
"CCP members who are very rich are now fewer in numbers (their participation in the top groups is less); they are also, at the very top, less rich relative to their non-Party peers except if they combine CCP membership with private sector ownership."
Overall, CCP membership premium is about 5% in 2013. But once you are in the top 5 percent, CCP membership premium is non-existent except if the membership is combined with large capitalist ownership.
Urban CCP membership in 2013 is broadly similar in social composition to the urban population, but the rich CCP members are increasingly different from both the rest of CCP membership and urban population.
So the rich are indeed...different.

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More from @BrankoMilan

30 Apr
The table below is useful to situate Western income distribution within global income distribution and to realize the problems linked with the idea of degrowth (i.e., of keeping global income fixed).
Column 1 shows that an average-income WENAO citizen is about three times as rich as an average person in the world ($52/$16=3.2), and the median income WENAO person is about 6 times better off than the global median person ($41/$7).
Column 2 shows that a median-income WENAO person is at the 90-91 global percentile. If the entire world were to be "allowed" to have income of the median WENAO person, world total GDP would have to rise 2.6 times ($41/$16).
Read 6 tweets
22 Apr
The Super League illustrates another problem. It is very difficult to explain what is the issue with the SL to some of my American friends b/c the sports in the US have historically been organized along entirely different lines from the rest of the world.
There were at least 2 big differences:
- No internationalism; all American games are only between the Americans. Explaining that FIFA is like the UN (UEFA like a European UN), and that the Super League is akin to officially quitting the UN is perhaps a useful parallel.
--History. In purely organizational terms soccer was ruled by gentlemen-amateur, then by national federations (political bodies) and over the time acquired hugely localized political/social importance which is now eroded by globalization and extreme commercialization.
Read 5 tweets
20 Apr
The great success of unfettered capitalism is how many people have totally accepted as obvious the argument that whoever has the money has the right to decide on the rules and do whatever he likes.
Moreover, it is made without people fully realizing what they are saying.
1) When Twitter decided to ban people it did not like, many said, "it is a private company, it can do whatever it wants: if you do not like it go elsewhere".
2) When Bezos bought the Washington Post, many said, "he can buy whatever he likes and decide what they write. If you do not like it, read something else."
Read 5 tweets
5 Apr
The difficulty of discussion w/ @jasonhickel comes also from the fact that he just does not *know* things about which he writes. He is right that today's GDP does not include non-marketed activities. But this is less obvious for the past. He seems to imagine that in 1820 England
Zambia and Peru had statistical offices that calculated GDP according to today's rules and excluded then quite sizeable non-market activities. But this is of course not true. There are no statistical offices and GDP methodology until late 1940s and early 1950s or even 1960s.
Historical GDPs are calculated based on assessments of arable land, yields, some info on people's consumption patterns, and data on production on a few manufactured goods. Such an approach which, in agriculture, does not depend on marketization but on physical production can...
Read 5 tweets
5 Apr
It is obvious that @jasonhickel does not know how different PLs have been derived. He believes that they are all arbitrary. He should check with (or better read) @MartinRavallion how the PLs, from 1990s onwards have bee defined. The PPP$1 line (which is now $1.90) is indeed low.
This us why it is called "absolute poverty line". It certainly does a good job as an absolute poverty line in historical data. My PL for Byzantium 1000 is very close to it. Maddison has used it. Allen has derived a similar level line using linear programming & regionally-based
consumption baskets & heating requirements. The original line was defined in 1990 based on the *actually* existing PLs in several poor countries. Hickel should also know that the Indian actual PL was *lower* than $1.90 and so was the Chinese rural PL until very recently.
Read 4 tweets
3 Apr
When I criticized recent publishing (in both Yang's book on Cultural Revolution & D Markovits' book on meritocracy) I had in mind the following.
In a book of such historical importance like Yang, you cannot put all footnotes 700 or more pages behind, in illegible endnotes.
(In Markovits' book, it was even worse.)
The names of most important (and frequently cited) people should have (when mentioned first) be written also in Chinese characters between brackets & even in Wade-Giles transliteration b/c that's how their names were written in the 1970s.
The editor should have used footnotes to give super short (one- or two-sentence) explanation for some events that are either badly explained or assumed known by Yang. Also for biographical details (DOB and death, most important political position).
Read 4 tweets

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