Prokopfeinkommen der tibetischen Nomaden – Daten und Missverständnisse
  Average per capita annual income of Tibetan pastoralists – data and misconceptions

By © Andreas Gruschke, 
Sonderforschungsbereich SFB 586, Universität Leipzig

Zahlreiche Veröffentlichungen, in gedruckter Form und im Internet, nennen Beträge zwischen 500 und 1500 Yuan (zur Zeit etwa 50 bis 150 Euro/ Oktober 2008) als Prokopfeinkommen tibetischer Nomaden. Dabei ist festzustellen, dass diese Angaben verbreitet – in der Öffentlichkeit wie auch in vielen wissenschaftlichen Arbeiten – als Durchschnitt der tatsächlichen Haushaltseinkommen tibetischer Nomaden aufgefasst werden. Dies ist eine grobe Fehleinschätzung, die durch Unkenntnis der diesen Daten zu Grunde liegenden Berechnungen hervorgerufen werden. Es sind statistische Daten der VR China, die – wie überall in der Welt üblich – als Nationaleinkommen (bis 1999: Sozialprodukt) den Wert aller Güter und Dienstleistungen, die innerhalb des Landes und von Regionen in einem Jahr von Unternehmen, Haushalten und vom Staat erwirtschaftet werden, errechnet und zur Vergleichbarkeit der Daten in verschiedenen Landesteilen auf jeden Einwohner der betreffenden Region herunterbricht - als sog. „Prokopfeinkommen“. Es handelt sich also um eine Durchschnittsbetrag, der angibt, welche Summe jeder erhalten würde, wenn das Sozialprodukt der Volkswirtschaft gleichmäßig an alle verteilt würde. In manchen Fällen mag eine Übereinstimmung mit tatsächlichen Bargeldeinkommen vorliegen, was jedoch nichts daran ändert, dass es sich um völlig unterschiedlich definierte Werte handelt.

  Quite a  number of print publications and in the internet state amounts of 500 to 1500 Yuan (currently, as of Oct. 2008, approx. 65 to 200 US $) representing the per capita income of Tibetan pastoralist households. It can be observed that the public as well as many scientific papers are perceiving this „income“ in the sense of effective average (cash) earnings of rural Tibetan pastoralists, or nomads. This is a coarse misjudgement caused by being unaware of how these data were calculated. These are statistical data of the PR of China delivering – as it is done all over the world – the measures of national income and output (GNP/GNI) totaling the value of goods and services produced in an economy. In order to make different regions comparable, these measures are referred to the individual inhabitants of the respective regions–the per capita income, which represents the amount of what each citizen would receive if the yearly national (or regional) income would be divided equally among everyone. In some cases the respective sums may coincidentally conform; this is, however, not implying that the respective measures are defined in a totally different way.

Tibetische Nomaden leben zum Großteil auf der Basis der Subsistenzwirtschaft, deren Güter und Dienstleistungen nicht in volkswirtschaftliche Berechnungen eingehen, weil sie diese nach der Produktion selbst verbrauchen oder der Wert durch Verkauf im informellen Sektor gar nicht erfasst wird. Damit ist ihre wirtschaftliche Leistung zumeist überhaupt nicht statistisch erfasst.

As Tibetan nomads mainly follow the patterns of a subsistence economy, their goods and services are mostly not considered in macroeconomic calculations. This is due to the circumstance that most of the goods and services the nomads produce are consumed by them without ever having reached the market (where they could be recorded, although in rural areas of Tibet not necessarily); and if they sell goods, notification of their value is also missed since it is done informally. Thus, the economic productivity of Tibetan pastoralists is generally not expressed in statistics.

Nachfolgend seien einige Beispiele für den missverständlichen Gebrauch des volkswirtschaftlich errechneten 
Prokopfeinkommens aufgeführt: 

Following are some examples of the ambivalent use of economic per capita income data:

• „In the Tibetan Autonomous Region, nomads are usually considered to be in poverty when their annual per capita income is less than approximately US$ 80.“ 
[cit. Daniel MILLER, Tough times for Tibetan nomads in Western China: Snowstorms, settling down, fences, and the demise of traditional nomadic pastoralism,, Download 10.10.2008]

Diese Angabe von Daniel MILLER, der in seinen Analysen der nomadischen Lebenssituation von für sie viel bedeutenderen Wohlstandsindikatiren ausgeht, wird häufig unkommentiert in wichtigen und qualitativ hochwertigen Arbeiten zum Thema zitiert, wie z.B. in:

This piece of data delivered by Daniel Miller – who in his own analysis of the nomadic life situation is considering indicators that are more relevant to the pastoralists – is often cited in important and good quality scientific research papers, as for instance in:

XU, J.; YONG, Y.; Zhuoqing, L.;Tashi, N.; Sharma, R.; JING, F.  (2008): Understanding land use, livelihoods, and health transitions among Tibetan methods: a case from Gangga township, Dingri county, Tibetan autonomous region of China :   EcoHealth DOI: 10.1007/s10393-008-0173-1

Marius Warg NÆSS (2004): Living with Risk and Uncertainty: The case of the Nomadic Pastoralists in the Aru Basin, Tibet,Tromsø, 2nd edition, p.77,, Download 10.10.2008.

• „Speaking in Beijing at the third meeting of the 7th Session of the Chinese National People's Congress in March 1990, the Chairman of the TAR People's Government, Dorje Tsering, said that Tibet (Autonomous Region) was still a very poor region with a per capita income of only about 200 yuan. An increase in the number of beggars is a stark reminder of economic problems faced by Tibetans.“ 
[op. cit. Conrad RICHTER, Tibetan Response to China's White on Tibet,, Download 10.10.2008]

•  „The average per capita annual income for herdsmen in Ganzi is 822 yuan (about US$100).“ 
[op. cit. Pamela LOGAN, Nomads and Development, Kham Aid Foundation, Download 10.10.2008]

• „The average per capita income was 2,333 Yuan (285) in Lithang in 1998. However, the per capita income of rural households was only 905 Yuan per person in Lithang ($110), while the average per capita income of county employees was 8,094 Yuan ($987).“ 
[op. cit. Daniel WINKLER, Yartsa Gunbu - Cordyceps sinensis. Economy, Ecology & Ethno-Mycology of a Fungus Endemic to the Tibetan Plateau, Fußnote 15,, Download 10.10.2008]

• „The medical expenses are high for example, an intravenous procedure one has to pay 140 yuan. This is in an area where an approximate per capita income is approximately 2000 yuan for a family.“ 
[op. cit. Right to subsistence, education and birth control of Tibetan, Download 10.10.2008]

• „Hui Chinese hoteliers charge around 6000 to 7000 Yuan per year. This is 7 times more than the annual per capita income of Tibetans in Tibet.“ 
[op. cit. Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy: Railway and China’s Development Strategy In Tibet,,  Download 10.10.2008]

• „The per capita income of local farmers and herdsmen topped 2,000 yuan (about 250 U.S. dollars) last year, posing double-digit growth for the third straight year. In the meantime, the per capita disposable income of urban residents soared to reach 8,411 yuan (about 1038 US dollars) in 2005, up by 2.6% over the previous year.“ 
[op. cit. Xinhuanet: Tibet sees record high per capita GDP in 2005,, Download 10.10.2008]

• „The average income of TAR rural residents remains a fraction of urban income, but according to official data the gap has narrowed slightly. In 2000, the average TAR urban per capita income (6,448 yuan) was 4.84 times more than the average rural per capita income (1,331 yuan).108 In 2005, the average TAR urban per capita income (8,411 yuan) was 4.05 times higher than the average rural per capita income (2,075 yuan).“
[op. cit. US Congress, Washington: CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA, 2006 ANNUAL REPORT, VIII. Tibet,, Download 10.10.2008]

• „115 Ibid., 3. Miller noted the transformation that has taken place because of nomad settlement, privatization and fencing of rangelands, and infrastructure development. But, according to Miller: "Government development programs have generally taken a top-down approach and, despite many of their good intentions, have often been hampered because Tibetan farmers and nomads were not involved in both the design and implementation of activities. Many of the government's efforts have also been not as effective because of faulty assumptions that have been made about poverty and Tibetans' traditional agricultural and livestock production practices." 
[op. cit. US Congress, Washington: CONGRESSIONAL-EXECUTIVE COMMISSION ON CHINA, 2006 ANNUAL REPORT, VIII. Tibet,, Download 10.10.2008]

• „The annual per capita income of rural people in Hongyuan, Zoige and Maqu Counties was approximately 1,600 RMB Yuan (US $194) in 2001 (Yan 2003).“ 
[op. cit. YAN Zhaoli, WU Ning, Yeshi Dorji and Ru Jia (2005): A Review of Rangeland Privatisation and its Implications in the Tibetan Plateau, China. In: Nomadic Peoples, 9; S. 33,, Download 10.10.2008]

• „In a country where the per capita income is US$30 it is perhaps hard to resist the temptation of selling rare animal parts for hard cash.“ 
[cit. TEW: Tibet: Environment and Development Issues,, Download 10.10.2008]

• „China's own statistics show Tibet's per capita income falls below that of all Chinese provinces.“ 
[op. cit. Lhadon Tethong, China’s Favorite Propaganda on Tibet …and Why It’s Wrong,, Download 10.10.2008]

Veröffentlichungen der US-Regierung bringen ländliche Migranten und die Einkommensunterschiede zwischen Stadt und Land sogar in einen Kausalzusammenhang:

The US government in its publications on China even implicitly describes a causal interrelation between rural migrants movements and the difference in per capita incomes of cities and of the countryside:

• „Rural residents continued to migrate to the cities, where the per capita disposable income was more than quadruple the rural per capita income.“ 
[op. cit. U.S. Department of State: U.S. Relations With the People's Republic of China (2008), Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2007. China (includes Tibet), Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor March 11, 2008,, Download 10.10.2008]

... und andere Analysten folgen dann dieser Auffassung:
... and other analysts are following this opinion:

• „Independent datas show a wide and threatening gap between the 1,861 yuan per capita income of the rural majority of Tibetans accounting for 85% of the total population and the 8,200 yuan ‘disposable income’ of those living in urban areas where there is a high concentration of Chinese immigrants.“ 
[op. cit. TYC: Gormo - Lhasa Railway: An Unparallel track to Invasion,, Download 10.10.2008]

Es ist der Mangel an ausreichenden statistischen und Stichproben-Erhebungen sowie wissenschaftlichen Untersuchungen über Haushaltseinkommen, der bis dato verhindert, dass korrekte globale Aussagen darüber erhältlich sind, welche Einnahmen und Ausgaben tibetische Nomaden tatsächlich haben. Sie sind – beide: Einnahmen und Ausgaben – auf jeden Fall im Mittel um ein Vielfaches höher als das sog. Prokopfeinkommen.
Daraus allein wiederum lassen sich noch keine Rückschlüsse auf die aktuelle Lebenssituation, die mögliche Armut oder den Wohlstand tibetische Nomaden ziehen.

The lack of sufficient data, be they statistical or sample data, as well as of related scientific research has so far prevented us to make correct global statements on de facto earned (cash) income and expenditure of Tibetan nomads. Certainly both – earned income and expenditure – are many times higher than the so-called per capita income as a measure of the economic productivity of a regional economy.
From this statement, however, we still can’t draw any conclusions about the factual life situation, possible poverty or wealth of Tibetan nomads.

© TibetInfoPage, 11-10-2008