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China’s Multidimensional Poverty Alleviation Ahead in the World

Submit Time:18-09-2017 | Zoom In | Zoom Out

Author:Chen Zongsheng | Source:People’s Daily (August 16, 2017)

Abstract:

China’s multidimensional poverty alleviation is already ahead in the world. The international community has been adopting a single income or consumption indicator to measure poverty for long, but people find in practice that income or consumption can only reflect one aspect of poverty. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics Amartya Sen put forward the idea of “multidimensional poverty alleviation”: poverty is not just insufficient income on a single dimension, but, more importantly, inability to obtain basic services such as education, health care and drinking water. Later, many scholars began to explore measurement methods and evaluation criteria of multidimensional poverty alleviation. In recent years, the international community even took “multidimensional poverty alleviation” as a modern new standard for measuring and evaluating poverty. Looking back at the course of China’s poverty alleviation and development, we can easily find that though China has not released clear standards of multidimensional poverty alleviation, it has carried out multidimensional poverty alleviation in practice and accumulated abundant successful experience for various countries to draw on. 

China’s poverty alleviation goals include multidimensional standards such as higher income and higher life quality. When the Impoverished Area Economic Development Leading Group of the State Council (predecessor of the State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development) was established back in 1986, it clearly proposed promoting poverty alleviation in multiple aspects such as increasing income, improving educational levels, bettering sanitary conditions and increasing fiscal revenue; the Seven-Year Program for Lifting 80 Million People Out of Poverty (1994-2000) implemented in 1994 proposes solving poor people’s the problem of food and clothing in seven years and helping them change the backward conditions of education, culture, health and infrastructure; the Outline for Development-Oriented Poverty Alleviation for China’s Rural Areas (2001-2010) implemented in 2001 requires that poor people’s quality of life and comprehensive quality be improved and that poor areas’ backward economic, social and cultural conditions be bettered gradually; the Outline for Development-Oriented Poverty Alleviation for China’s Rural Areas (2011-2020) implemented in 2011 stipulates that the goals of solving poor people’s the problem of food and clothing and ensuring their compulsory education and basic medical care and housing be realized stably by 2020; in 2015, guided by the spirit of comrade Xi Jinping’s important speeches on targeted poverty alleviation, our Party carried out top-down design for the work of targeted poverty alleviation, requiring that causes of poverty be found accurately from multiple perspectives and that poverty be tackled on multiple dimensions. It can be seen that in nearly 40 years of reform and opening up, China’s poverty alleviation goals were never limited to raising poor people’s income but included multiple dimensions such as income, education, health and culture with richer and richer connotations. 

Chinese poverty alleviation bodies include many departments and institutions of finance, civil affairs, health, etc. Only through strengthening coordination and joint participation can various departments effectively carry out multidimensional poverty alleviation. Departments of education solve the problem of insufficient educational resources, departments of health cope with the problem of poverty caused by illness, departments of finance deal with the problem of difficulties in financing for life and production, and departments of electricity, water, industry, commerce, culture and energy solve other problems involving poor people’s quality of life. When China first established the Impoverished Area Economic Development Leading Group of the State Council, it was stipulated that its members include many government departments including departments of agriculture, education, health and finance. In 2015, the State Council Leading Group of Poverty Alleviation and Development had more than 40 members including government departments, financial institutions and social organizations. Besides, China has established the work mechanism of overall planning by the central government, assumption of overall responsibility by provinces and implementation by cities and counties as well as the targeted poverty alleviation mechanism for Party and government organizations, armed forces, mass organizations and state-owned enterprises, realizing clear division of work and responsibilities, assignment of tasks to specific persons and assessment in place. This is a vivid picture of multidimensional poverty alleviation, showing socialism’s advantage of concentrating resources to accomplish great things. 

China’s poverty alleviation methods include industrial development, social security, etc. In the past few decades, China summarized and accumulated many targeted and effective poverty alleviation methods. Under the guiding thought of targeted poverty alleviation, more positive and effective poverty alleviation measures were formed, especially in recent years. On the basis of accurately identifying poor families and analyzing causes and manifestations of poverty on multiple dimensions, various provinces and autonomous regions have implemented the project of poverty alleviation through developing poor people’s own productivity, helping them migrate to richer places, providing them with eco-compensation, improving their education and providing them with social security according to their actual conditions, realized targeted poverty alleviation, project arrangement, fund use, measures for households, assignment of personnel in villages and poverty alleviation effect and effectively solved the problems of “recipients of support, providers of support, methods of support and how to exit”. 

Because China has stuck to multidimensional poverty alleviation for long, it has made great achievements in the cause of poverty alleviation and development receiving worldwide attention. In nearly 40 years of reform and opening up, China’s rural poor population decreased by more than 700 million, accounting for more than 70% of people lifted out of poverty in the world; from 2013 to 2016, China lifted over 12 million people out of poverty for four consecutive years, the total number of people lifted out of poverty being 55.64 million, and the poverty occurrence rate dropped from 10.2% at the end of 2012 to 4.5% at the end of 2016. This fully shows that while the international community was still carrying out theoretical exploration of multidimensional poverty, our Party had pioneered the brand new cause of multidimensional poverty alleviation in practice. 

(The author is a professor at Nankai University)


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