World | Business

China's Citizens Hide As Much As $2.34 Trillion In Income, Researcher Says

NPR | March 7, 2013 11:19 a.m.

Contributed By:

Bill Chappell

As much as $2.34 trillion in yearly income goes unreported in China, an economics scholar says. Here, an imported car passes a shopping mall in Beijing.

As much as $2.34 trillion in yearly income goes unreported in China, an economics scholar says. Here, an imported car passes a shopping mall in Beijing.

AP, Vincent Yu

China’s citizens do not report as much as $2.34 trillion of what they make every year, hiding “gray income” that would represent nearly 20 percent of the country’s GDP, Chinese economics scholar Wang Xiaolu says, in a report from the news site Global Voices.

Wang, of Beijing’s National Economic Research Institute, told an audience last week (page is in Chinese) that the figure — representing nearly 20 percent of China’s GDP — means the gap between rich and poor Chinese is wider than is commonly believed.

Speaking at the Chinese Museum of Finance, Wang renewed an argument he made in an attention-grabbing study of China’s income gap in 2010. That work, which relied partly on informal surveying of Chinese wage-earners, drew criticism from the official National Bureau of Statistics. It also sparked a government push to bring “gray income” into the daylight — an effort that met with little success.

China’s non-reported income is believed to have many origins, from bribes for corrupt officials and under-the-table deals between merchants to monetary gifts bestowed upon doctors and nurses.

As we recently reported, the pervasive covering-up of revenue made efforts to list China’s richest citizens difficult, with the magazine Hurun Report concluding that “valuing the wealth of China’s richest is as much an art as it is a science.”

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