Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2018, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (10): 1427-1443.doi: 10.1007/s11442-018-1554-1

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The poverty dynamics in rural China during 2000-2014: A multi-scale analysis based on the poverty gap index

Qiang REN1,3(), Qingxu HUANG1,2, Chunyang HE1,2*(), Mengzhao TU1,3, Xiaoying LIANG4*()   

  1. 1. Center for Human-Environment System Sustainability (CHESS), State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology (ESPRE), Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    2. School of Natural Resources, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    3. Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management, Faculty of Geographical Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    4. College of Urban and Environmental Science, Northwest University, Xi’an 710127, China
  • Received:2018-03-05 Accepted:2018-04-13 Online:2018-10-25 Published:2018-10-25
  • About author:

    Author: Ren Qiang, PhD Candidate, E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Basic Research Program of China, No.2014CB954302;National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41621061, No.41671086


As the largest developing country in the world, China’s rural areas face many poverty-related issues. It is imperative to assess poverty dynamics in a timely and effective manner in China’s rural areas. Therefore, we used the poverty gap index to investigate the poverty dynamics in China’s rural areas during 2000-2014 at the national, contiguous poor areas with particular difficulties and county scales. We found that China made significant achievements in poverty alleviation during 2000-2014. At the national scale, the number of impoverished counties decreased by 1428, a reduction of 97.28%. The rural population in impoverished counties decreased by 493.94 million people or 98.76%. Poverty alleviation was closely associated with economic development, especially with industrial development. Among all 15 socioeconomic indicators, the industrial added value had the highest correlation coefficient with the poverty gap index (r = -0.458, p<0.01). Meanwhile, the inequality of income distribution in the out-of-poverty counties has been aggravated. The urban-rural income gap among the out-of-poverty counties increased by 1.67-fold, and the coefficient of variation in rural per-capita income among the out-of-poverty counties also increased by 9.09%. Thus, we argued that special attention should be paid to reducing income inequality for sustainable development in China’s rural areas.

Key words: rural China, poverty, poverty gap index, income inequity, sustainability