Economist gives tips on bridging urban-rural income gap

Updated: 2011-09-02 13:23


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BEIJING -- Renowned Chinese economist Li Yining on Thursday called for allowing farmers to sell their houses or use their houses as loan guarantees amid other efforts for bridging a widening income gap between rural and urban areas.

Li, a deputy director of the Economic Commission of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top advisory body, made the suggestions at a signing ceremony for the overseas edition of his work, "Economic Reform and Development: the Chinese Way".

Farmers' lands are collectively owned, so the houses built on them do not have property ownership certificates, said Li, who is also a professor at Peking University. He urged the government to give farmers property ownership certificates to allow them to sell their houses and to use their houses guarantees on loans.

The government could go a step further, allowing farmers to use their farmland as loan guarantees to get much needed bank loans to fund their businesses, he said.

Li also said the government should also reform the education system to give the rural population the same educational resources as their urban peers.

"Unequal education leads to unequal employment, and then unequal incomes, and then unequal living standards and then unequal conditions for the next-generation," he said.

Li also said the government should help and not discourage farmers from going to work in cities. After the integration of urban and rural areas, the government should reform the social insurance system to help narrow the wealth gap, he said.

For his advocacy of joint-share reform, Li is known to many Chinese as "Mr Shareholding." He is sometimes called "the Keynes of China" because the joint-share reform he initiated was adopted by the Chinese government and transformed the country as much as the work of British economist John Maynard Keynes transformed Western economic thought.

Britain's Cambridge University Press signed a deal Thursday with the Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press of China to publish and sell overseas the English version of "Economic Reform and Development: the Chinese Way".

The book features 16 selected theses Li wrote between 1980 and 1998.


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