The CHIP surveys

July 08, 2011
Kelly Haggart

Many of the young scholars relied on data generated by the China Household Income Project (CHIP), a collaboration between Chinese and international economists that has tracked inequality in China for the past 20 years.

Curt Carnemark / World Bank

Four large-scale CHIP surveys have been conducted since 1988, under the auspices of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. These surveys constitute a major repository of knowledge about inequality and poverty in the world’s most populous country at a time of rapid change.

Network coordinator Li Shi has worked on the CHIP survey since its inception. Network mentor Terry Sicular, a University of Western Ontario economics professor and long-time China specialist, has worked on the last two rounds of the survey. The CHIP data collection, Sicular explains, piggybacks on the large annual household surveys conducted nationwide by China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

“The NBS data are not generally publicly available, and their questionnaire is not designed with our research questions in mind,” she says. However, NBS survey teams make the CHIP effort possible, as they are contracted every few years to ask a subsample of respondents the CHIP questions. As a result, scholars seeking to understand inequality in China gain access to useful data not otherwise available on about 16 000 rural and urban households across the country.

CHIP survey findings from 1988-2002 are discussed in a new book, Inequality and Public Policy in China, co-edited by Swedish poverty specialist Björn Gustafsson, Li Shi, and Terry Sicular. Two of the Poverty Research Network’s young scholars, Deng Quheng and Luo Chuliang, were involved in preparing the 2002 and 2007 CHIP data for analysis. Data from the 2007 survey is expected to be available in 2009.


Learn more about this successful Canada-China collaboration: