The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences recently published a report about how much income you need in order to be classified as white-collar in various Chinese cities. At the top of the list was Hong Kong, where you needed to make at least 18,500 RMB. As for some of the other cities:
The benchmarks in some major cities at the upper end are: 8,900 yuan ($1,194) in Macao, 5,350 yuan ($717) in Shanghai, 5,280 yuan ($708) in Shenzhen of Guangdong Province, 4,980 yuan ($668) in Hangzhou of Zhejiang Province and 4,750 yuan ($637) in Guangzhou of Guangdong Province.
The Chinese press reports are more detailed: 3780 in Nanjing, 3000 in Dalian, 1900 in Chengdu, 1000 in Xining, and last but not least, 900 in Lhasa. If you like mountains and don’t mind political repression, you could be livin’ large in Lhasa!
From the blogosphere, we found a report that suggests that for a person without a city hukou, it takes an extra 1800 RMB to achieve the same standard of living. Thus, if 5000 RMB is enough to be white-collar in Beijing for a person with a Beijing residence permit, someone lacking that same permit is going to have to make 6800 to maintain the same standard of living. We don’t know about the methodology involved, but it obviously makes sense that you would need more money if you didn’t have the resident permit because of the extra costs and lack of benefits that make it easier for those that possess the permits to achieve a certain standard of living. There are unconfirmed reports that Yunnan province will eliminate the hukou system, which we hope will inspire the rest of China to slowly follow suit: because things would just be so much more harmonious that way.
According to one report, a lot of people in the blogosphere have ridiculed the report’s figures, saying that even if they make the minimum amount of income the report says you need to be considered white-collar that they certainly don’t feel as if they are white-collar, meaning that on this income, they can make ends meet and break even or perhaps save some money—but are hardly living what they considered a proper “white-collar” lifestyle. But we suppose that depends on how you correlate income with standard of living, and then where you decide to define the lower limit of “white-collar”.
Image from gz.focus.cn