1/OK, data mystery time.

This New York Times feature shows China with a Gini Index of less than 30, which would make it more equal than Canada, France, or the Netherlands. https://t.co/g3Sv6DZTDE

That's weird. Income inequality in China is legendary.

Let's check this number.

2/The New York Times cites the World Bank's recent report, "Fair Progress? Economic Mobility across Generations Around the World".

The report is available here: https://t.co/mrvWz1IzIe
3/The World Bank report has a graph in which it appears to show the same value for China's Gini - under 0.3.

The graph cites the World Development Indicators as its source for the income inequality data.
4/The World Development Indicators are available at the World Bank's website.

Here's the Gini index: https://t.co/MvylQzpX6A

It looks as if the latest estimate for China's Gini is 42.2.

That estimate is from 2012.
5/A Gini of 42.2 would put China in the same neighborhood as the U.S., whose Gini was estimated at 41 in 2013.

I can't find the <30 number anywhere. The only other estimate in the tables for China is from 2008, when it was estimated at 42.8.
6/FRED, which gets its Gini estimates from the World Bank, shows the same numbers: https://t.co/1y911qazo9

Everyone except the "Fair Progress?" report, and the New York Times feature, seems to agree that the World Bank's most recent estimate of China's Gini is 42.2.
7/It appears that China's own estimate of its Gini was 46.5 in 2016: https://t.co/dG58kH3LiS
8/So where the heck is the "Fair Progress?" report getting its super-low China Gini number? It seems like it's NOT from the World Bank's World Development Indicators, which is what the report cites.
9/I notice that in the "Fair Progress?" report cited by the NYT, the U.S. Gini is also a bit fishy. It's less than 40, when the World Development Indicators say it's a bit over 40.
10/The only other source the "Fair Progress?" report cites is the World Bank's Global Database on Intergenerational Mobility: https://t.co/95RnPYxMsB

But the GDIM doesn't have income GINIs. So that can't be where these weird numbers were from (unless the data was mislabeled).
11/Anyway I've been searching high and low for where the "Fair Progress?" report and the NYT got these weird Gini numbers, and I just can't find it. If anyone else can help me find where this comes from, I'd appreciate it.
12/As of right now, it's looking like the New York Times used some bad data for an incredibly widely read report, thus convincing a ton of people (incorrectly) that China is a far more economically equal place than the United States.

13/But if someone finds a reliable source for these Gini numbers, then please let me know!

(end...for now)
14/UPDATE: The mystery has been solved! https://t.co/Qw9aB7Qg9D

The Gini number the NYT used was from the 1980s. It was not labeled as such.
15/The people who wrote the New York Times story appeared not to realize this. Here's the caption and graph from their piece:
16/The NYT seems to have just made a mistake, and should change the text and the graph to reflect that these numbers are from the 1980s, not current.


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