Spatial inequality of inclusive wealth in China and Japan

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Sustainable development requires a nondeclining growth of the productive base or comprehensive wealth of an economy. We use the concept of inclusive wealth (IW) to assess national wealth and sustainability. IW comprises natural, human, and produced capital. With multisource data and GIS technology, this study created a pixel-level IW database for China and Japan in 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015. Using the high-resolution data, we first conducted a multiscalar analysis of the spatiotemporal pattern of IW and investigated the contributions of component capital to IW change. Then, we employed the decomposition of the Theil and Gini indices to explore the spatial wealth inequality and its driving forces. The multiscalar analysis reveals that sustainability evaluation in terms of IW is sensitive to geographical scales and that the contributions of capital types to IW growth are spatially heterogeneous. Although national IW increases in China and Japan, certain regions lose wealth within the country, and the proportion of those unsustainable areas increases as the analysis unit gets smaller. According to the inequality analysis, the spatial distribution of wealth is highly imbalanced with a substantial urban–rural divide and coastal-inland gap in both countries, and the total wealth inequality and these gaps widen from 2000 to 2015. China is experiencing significant structural changes in wealth composition. In particular, the structural shift to produced capital, for which the distribution is the most uneven, dominates the increasing trend of wealth inequality in China. In Japan, the wealth structure is stable, while depopulation in rural areas and the concentration of human capital in metropolises enhance spatial wealth inequality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-179
Number of pages16
JournalEconomic Analysis and Policy
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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