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不平等性降临亚洲

首尔—从中国到印度,近几十年来亚洲国家的高速经济扩张让数亿人摆脱了贫困。但最近,收入分配出现恶化,如今亚洲的不平等性甚至比西方发达经济体还要严重

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从1990年到2012年,中国净基尼系数——衡量(税收和转移支付后)收入不平等性的常用指标——从0.37大幅上升至0.51(零代表完全品更,一代表完全不平等)。印度净基尼系数也从0.43上升到0.48。即使是此前“平等地”增长的“亚洲四小龙”——香港、新加坡、韩国和台湾——最近也面临不平等性上升的局面。比如,韩国顶层10%所得到的收入占比从1995年的29%升高到2013年的45%。

不平等性恶化趋势背后的推动力量,正是近几十年来推动亚洲经济增长的力量:高歌猛进的全球化和技术进步。日益开放的边境让企业更容易寻找最便宜的地方开展业务。特别是,中国进入全球市场给其他地区的低技能生产工人造成了工资压力。

与此同时,新技术提高了高技能工人的需求,同时降低了低技能工人的需求——这一趋势令高技能和低技能工人之间的工资差距雪上加霜。资本所有者还攫取了技术进步的大部分收益。简言之,正如诺贝尔奖得主迪顿(Angus Deaton)所指出,全球和技术进步化为数百万特定人群创造出新机会,同时也让为数巨大的人群陷入工资停滞、失业和经济困顿,从而拉开了有产者和无产者之间的差距。

收入不平等常常与机会不平等相伴相生,这进一步恶化了这一趋势。起点较低的有才青年,因为教育和经济前景饱受限制而最终原地踏步。随着不平等性日益根深蒂固,有利于促增长的经济政策的共识可能受到影响,从而破坏社会凝聚,刺激政治动荡。

要避免这样的结果,亚洲国家需要改变游戏规则,让年轻人不论出身贵贱与否,都能获得在收入阶梯上向上攀爬的机会。市场机制不足以实现这一点。政府必须采取行动,除了促增长之外,还要采取旨在确保增长收益被更平等、更持续地共享的政策。

平心而论,一些亚洲政府一直在努力用进步的再分配政策解决不平等性问题。比如,韩国政府最近宣布从明年起将最低工资提高16.4%至每小时7,530韩元(6.70美元),并在2020年在此基础上再提高55%。它还将提高最高收入者和公司的税率。

但尽管这些措施能获得大量群众支持,最终的结果可能会(比如)拖累商业投资、阻碍就业岗位创造,从而伤及经济。事实上,遏制当今不平等性局面的首要经验规则应该是简单粗暴的平等主义政策不可能一劳永逸——事实上它们可能会产生消极的长期后果。

以委内瑞拉为例,20世纪90年代末,委内瑞拉政府决定实施民粹主义再分配政策,而不是去解决经济过度依赖石油业、缺乏竞争力的问题。这个选择让国家濒临破产,也助长的大规模社会动乱和政治动荡。委内瑞拉的国家灾难应该让所有人警醒。

同时改善平等性和增长的最佳方法是有效发展人力资本,这不但能够支持现在的收入的提高,还能保证未来的代际流动性。这需要加强社会安全网和再分配税收和转移支付计划,以及普及全民品质教育。

好消息是许多东亚经济体已经开始加大公共教育投资力度,以期为全体人民扩大机会。但还必须做更多事情。

亚洲还需需要进一步改善高等教育质量,实施课程改革以确保年轻人获得为进入劳动力市场做好准备所需要的知识和技能。与此同时,劳动力市场应该更加有效和灵活,从而将人与正确的岗位相匹配,给予他们充分的报酬。随着技术不断地改变经济,需要终身教育和培训让工人不掉队。

促进更多女孩和妇女受教育和参与经济活动也十分重要。此外,政府应该营造有利于小型创新初创企业的环境。当然,它们还应该保持促增长政策,提高总体就业岗位创造、降低失业率,同时杜绝贸易或创新壁垒。

在当今紧张的政治氛围中,拒绝全球化、采取民粹主义再分配政策的诱惑越来越大,但这样做最终弊远大于利。如果亚洲领导人想要实现真正的“平等的增长”的承诺,就必须做得更好。

http://prosyn.org/pduL9mG/zh;

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