Sense of Economic Gain from E-Commerce: Different Effects on Poor and Non-Poor Rural households
Wang Yu (王瑜)*
Rural Development Institute, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Beijing, China
Abstract: Sense of economic gain of e-commerce participation is an important aspect for evaluating the inclusiveness of e-commerce development. Based on the data of 6,242 rural households collected from the 2017 summer surveys conducted by the China Institute for Rural Studies (CIRS), Tsinghua University, this paper evaluates the effects of e-commerce participation on rural households’ sense of economic gain with the propensity score matching (PSM) method, and carries out grouped comparisons between poor and nonpoor households. Specifically, the “Self-evaluated income level relative to fellow villagers” measures respondents’ sense of economic gain in the relative sense, and “Percentage of expected household income growth (reduction) in 2018 over 2017” measures future income growth expectation. Findings suggest that e-commerce participation significantly increased sample households’ sense of economic gain relative to their fellow villagers and their future income growth expectation. Yet grouped comparisons offer different conclusions: E-commerce participation increased poor households’ sense of economic gain compared with fellow villagers more than it did for non-poor households. E-commerce participation did little to increase poor households’ future income growth expectation. Like many other poverty reduction programs, pro-poor e-commerce helps poor households with policy preferences but have yet to help them foster skills to prosper in the long run. The sustainability and quality of perceived relative economic gain for poor households are yet to be further observed and examined. All poverty reduction initiatives including pro-poor e-commerce must help poor households develop endogenous growth momentum to prosper beyond the effects of short-term pro-poor policies.
Keywords: E-commerce participation, sense of economic gain, poor households, nonpoor households
JEL Classification Codes: D19, Q13, O12
DOI: 1 0.19602/j .chinaeconomist.2020.05.08