A report from Peking University warns that China has reached a dangerous level of income inequality that bodes ill for the country’s social stability, with the elite 1% of society owning a third of Chinese wealth.
Meanwhile, an ironic 1% of the mainland’s money goes to the bottom 25% of earners. 70 million Chinese currently live under the poverty line, which amounts to $2.2 per capita per day.
To indicate healthy structural mobility, a country’s Gini index should range from 0.2 to 0.4. China’s Gini index, on the other hand, has ballooned from a respectable 0.3 in the 1980s, to 0.45 today.
As a consequence, Chinese citizens are more plagued than ever by unequal access to the likes of education and medical care, with women suffering more than men — nothing to see here.
But while the poor languish, the middle class apparently only gets richer — last year recruitment site Zhaopin reported that the average salary in China had risen 48%, with respondents from 32 major cities earning an average of 6,070 RMB in their fourth quarter, in comparison to a 4,091 RMB average in 2014. Beijing boasts the highest average of all, at 9,227 RMB, though Shanghai and Shenzhen aren’t too far behind.
Chinese netizens admit to being a little dubious of the Zhaopin report’s finding. “I’m holding back our country again,” some joked. “How come I am in Shenzhen and I only earn 4,500 yuan?” another asked.
According to insurance company Taikang Life, as of 2015 the mainland housed 1.21 million millionaires (by U.S. standards), many of whom have done the most to make their presence known. Meanwhile, in October of last year, another study found that the number of billionaires in China had surpassed the number in the U.S.
By Pinky Latt