Discussion Paper

It Is Better to Be the Head of a Chicken than the Tail of a Phoenix? A Study of Concern for Relative Standing in Rural China

Nov 15, 2008 | Fredrik Carlsson, Ping Qin

This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .


This paper examines the concern for relative standing among rural households in China. We used a survey-experimental method to measure to what extent poor Chinese farmers care about their relative income and found that the respondents cared to a high degree. Compared to previous studies in developed countries, the concern for relative standing seems to be equally strong among rural households in China. This should be seen in the light of the rapid change China has undergone, with high growth, increased inequality, and the highest urban-rural income ratio in the world. Thus, the rural population, which is lagging behind, is suffering not only from low absolute income but also from low relative income.