A study sponsored by the Asian Development Bank has found that pockets of poverty persist even in the relatively prosperous east of China as well as in the less developed hinterland. The study, based on a survey of urban households conducted by the National Statistics Bureau in 1998, found that the national rate of urban poverty was between 4 and 6 per cent. The poorest provinces – those where the rate was above 8 per cent – were mainly in the west and included Shaanxi, Ningxia and Tibet, but also Henan. The report's most surprising finding was high levels of urban poverty in the coastal areas of Liaoning and Tianjin, which the author, Professor Athar Hussain, related to lay-offs of workers from the state sector.
The study also estimated the true rate of urban unemployment, covering all categories of laid-off workers and rural migrants who had stayed in cities for more than six months, at 12.3 per cent. The official figure, based on numbers of urban residents registered as unemployed, was 3.6 per cent at the end of 2001. The report also found that a large number of people were on the poverty borderline and concluded that government policies should aim to help these people too, giving support when, say, the birth of a child increased family expenditure or illness reduced income.