A survey by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the National Bureau of Statistics found that the gap between urban and rural incomes widened in 2002. The findings, published in the academy's green paper on rural economics, showed that the average urban income was 3.11 times the average rural income, compared with 2.89 times in 2001. Although rural incomes did increase in 2002, this was a result of rural residents working in cities rather than in agriculture.
Consumer spending by rural residents grew by 6.8 per cent last year, while that of urban residents rose by 10 per cent. The contribution of agriculture to gross domestic product fell by 0.7 per cent year-on-year to 49.2 per cent.
The government is trying to increase rural incomes by reducing the financial burden on farmers. Premier Wen Jiabao said that some areas could start scrapping taxes on non-staple agricultural crops and that other areas should try to reduce them. The wider reform of exchanging prescribed taxes for arbitrary fees would be introduced nationwide this year and special subsidies would be given to major grain-producing areas.