A recent report published by Chinese academics looking at the income profile of those living in some of China’s wealthiest cities has found that over half of Beijing and Shanghai residents can be considered middle class.
The “social blue paper” was published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) on December 24 and examines the current state of the Chinese economy in order to produce recommendations and guidance for policymakers.
According to the paper, an average middle class citizen in Shanghai earns 219,770 yuan ($34,007) per annum compared with 256,016 yuan ($39,615) in Beijing and 170,037 yuan ($26,311) in Guangzhou. In China, the average income of the middle class is said to be approximately 200,000 yuan ($30,948), roughly 3.5 times more than what the working classes earn.
By this measure, the report states that 51 percent of the population in Shanghai belongs to the middle class. 55 percent of Beijing and 42.5 percent of Guangzhou residents are also said to be middle class.
Zhang Haidong, a Shanghai University professor who participated in the research, said that over 60 percent of the middle class are home owners and more than half own cars, while only 13.6 percent of people from groups below the medium strata have cars.
The research compared people’s awareness of their social status today with five years ago. It was found that 48.8 percent of interviewees in Beijing and 61 percent in Shanghai, identify as middle class now, while it was 30 percent in Beijing, 48 percent in Shanghai half a decade ago.