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A model of industrialization and rural income distribution

Yong Wang (Institute of New Structural Economics, Peking University, Beijing, China)

China Agricultural Economic Review

ISSN: 1756-137X

Article publication date: 13 June 2019

Issue publication date: 18 September 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore how the processes of (de)industrialization and rural income distribution interact with each other and their implications for economic growth and welfare.


This paper takes a dynamic general-equilibrium and theoretical approach.


The author develops a dynamic general-equilibrium model to analytically characterize how (de) industrialization interacts with rural income distribution, and also explores the implications for aggregate GDP growth, the evolution of rural income distribution as well as welfare. Redistributive policies are shown to sometimes enhance GDP and welfare by boosting the production of the goods with high desirability (or productivity) but constrained by depressed demand due to income inequality, and internalizing the dynamic impact of private production and consumption decisions on future public productivities.

Practical implications

The research suggests that rural income distribution and (de)industrialization are intrinsically related, so policies or institutional distortions on one process would, in general, affect the other. Redistributive policies are shown to sometimes enhance GDP and welfare by enhancing industrialization.


The paper contributes to the literature of industrialization and structural change at large in several aspects. First, a key novel feature of our model is that the Engle’s law is captured by a quasi-linear utility function, which differs from the standard non-homothetic functions in this literature. Second, our paper contributes to the literature of structural change by showing how (de)industrialization works when sectorial productivity changes are endogenous. The paper also sheds light on the determination of rural income distribution and its evolution in the process of structural change and rural-urban migration.



For helpful discussions and comments, the author would like to thank Kiminori Matsuyama and participants of the Symposium in Celebration of Justin Yifu Lin’s 30th Anniversary of Teaching. Encouragement and kind patience from Baozhong Su, executive editor, is gratefully acknowledged. All remaining deficiencies are mine.


Wang, Y. (2019), "A model of industrialization and rural income distribution", China Agricultural Economic Review, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 507-535.



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