Beijing, Shanghai top China's well-being index

By Wei Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-06-19 09:07
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BEIJING - Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin topped the charts of a well-being index that is part of an academic report released on Saturday.

The report, published by the Beijing Normal University, is a review of the overall development of people's livelihood in China during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010). It carried out a quantitative analysis with a focus on each province.

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The survey included 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland, excluding Tibet, with data collected from public yearbooks released by various provincial authorities.

The key indicator, a well-being index, is calculated based on three main performances - livelihood standards, public services and social administration - and further divided into 13 categories.

Beijing tops the table with a well-being index of 0.739, followed by Shanghai at 0.635 and Tianjin at 0.536. The southwestern Guizhou province comes in last with only 0.200.

According to the result, the index is closely tagged to the economic development of the region, so the eastern coastal areas would still outperform the inland regions of the west.

Nine out of the top 10 provinces are from the eastern seaboard, while eight in the last 10 are from the west.

Beijing and Shanghai dominate the rankings in most of the sub-categories, including income level, education and infrastructure.

But both cities failed to make the list in housing and transport mainly because of over-heated property prices and over-crowded and congested roads.

Guangdong province has the highest GDP, according to the 2010 statistics, but only came in 6th in the overall rankings, hindered mainly by its weak social security and housing support.

Jiangsu and Zhejiang ranked high because of their balanced development, while the northeastern provinces have the best social security systems, according to the report.

Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region ranks No 1 in social security system and Inner Mongolia tops the "Environment Improvement" list.

"Some results may be quite different from our initial impressions," said Wang Hongxin, deputy head of the Government Management School of the BNU.

He said the report aimed to provide a reference for decision-makers evaluating the performance of local governments that is less skewed toward only GDP performance.

But there was still room for improvement, according to Ren Yuling, counselor of the State Council, who noted that it was the first quantified indicator of its kind.

"Just giving an index and rankings lack credibility. There should be more case studies to support the result. People's livelihood cannot be simply measured in numbers and figures," Ren said.

Wang said the report is an ongoing project, with further studies to be conducted and more details revealed in next year's update.

His department is also considering partnering foreign research institutes to optimize results in future.