Has the quality of life of your family improved over the past five years? Nearly 77 percent of women interviewed in China's cities have answered in the affirmative, according to the third survey on women's life quality, released by Women of China Magazine and Huakun Women's Life Survey Center.
The annual survey, which has been carried out since 2005, interviewed more than 2,200 female urbanites in 20 major cities across the country, between October and January. About 55 percent said they are happy with life. Salary increases, better housing, more advanced communications and convenient commuting were the four main reasons why women feel their life has progressed.
Interviewees were less impressed by improvements in medical services, public order and children's schooling. The survey found that of the issues discussed during this year's sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), 81 percent of women care most about the issues concerning people's livelihoods .
The survey indicates that a good proportion of women have confidence in a brighter future and yearn for further increases in income.
Interviewees in different cities differ in their hopes for life improvements in the next five years. For instance, women in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, wished most for improved housing conditions. Women in Changsha, capital of Hunan province, put enhanced social security at the top of their agendas. Women in Kunming, capital of Yunnan province, prioritized better public order and medical care.
The center has also conducted research on the consumption patterns of urban women in 2007. It observed that more than two thirds of the interviewees made investments last year, and half of them made a profit. Investment funds ranked first in women's personal money management products (bank saving excluded), ahead of stocks, real estate and commercial insurance.
More women are using credit cards. Nearly 30 percent own three-and-plus cards, mainly because they are convenient and safe and allow overdrafts. Only a few still think of the cards as fashionable and status symbols.
The Olympic Games, tourism and beauty are the three keynote areas in city women's consumption patterns for this year. Around 17 percent of interviewees intend to buy tickets and souvenirs for the Beijing Olympic Games.
Women's enthusiasm for traveling will continue, as 79 percent have made travel plans. The top five holiday destinations are Hainan, Yunnan, Beijing, Tibet and Hong Kong.
"The results suggest the government's efforts to improve people's livelihoods are widely recognized by women," commented Jiang Yongping, a researcher from the All-China Women's Federation.
Meanwhile, she noted that 66 percent of women who are married and have no kids are happy about their lives, higher than the percentage of married mothers (61 percent) and singles (48 percent). It may imply that women are shouldering the most work generated by bearing children.
"The survey on urban women's consumption patterns doesn't reflect the pressure of inflation upon consumers. It should be included in next year's analysis," Shi Zhengxin, a guest professor at Beijing Technology and Business University, said.
The Annual Report on Chinese Women's State of Life (2007) has been published in both Chinese and English. The second Blue Book of Women's Life has a collection of surveys on women's life quality and consumption, conducted in 2006 by the All-China Women's Federation.