Qiong Wu

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Barry Goetz

Second Advisor

Dr. David Hartmann

Third Advisor

Dr. Yuan-Kang Wang


Income inequality, China, urban, stratification, market, social structure, regional disparity

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The rise of inequality in China is one of the most serious social problems in the reform era in China. Previous studies have debated the relative importance of human capital, political capital, and other factors in determining personal income. By using a new dataset from 2006 China General Social Survey (CGSS2006), I replicate earlier tests to measure whether the market or state has more impact on incomes as a way to the competing hypotheses related to human versus political capital.

The results of the ordinary least squares regression analysis show no significance in party membership, state ownership, and work experience, while I do find high returns to education, which supports Nee's market transition theory. Moreover, the findings indicate that market sectors, including domestic private enterprises and foreign enterprises have remarkable advantages in earnings, and there is a great income gap between different regions, sectors, and within the sectors. However, there are several limitations in my research: 1) the grey income sources that are not included in the data; 2) some other related variables like occupation, cadre status, are not covered in the analysis; 3) state cadres are still enjoy many invisible privileges which is hard to quantified. To summarize, the market and state play a dual role in determining incomes in transitional urban China.