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490,000 yuan needed to rear a child in China?
Updated: 2005-02-14 16:23

"Chinese parents will spend on average of 490,000 yuan to bring up one healthy child." this assertion, reported by the media from a research report issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, aroused the suspicion of many citizens.

Singapore's United Morning Post's Beijing Bureau reported that most citizens thought that this research report was produced by the Academy's experts in their ivory towers, behind closed doors, far removed from the reality of Chinese society.

One newspaper in Beijing recently introduced this research report titled "the cost of child-rearing, its structure, changes and optimization during the transformation period" written by famous sociologist Xu Anqi of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The report said that the total cost of raising one child from infancy to the age of 16 would be 250,000 yuan, given the direct economic cost.

If the cost of the child's higher education were taken into account, the number would add up to 480,000 yuan.

The report estimated that the total cost of raising one unmarried child who was not a student to the age of 30 was 490,000 yuan.

And that figure did not even include the income of about 50,000 to 60,000 yuan from social donation, free schooling and Spring Festival lucky money and so on.

According to the research report, lucky money received during Chinese New Year and pocket money amounted to 2,300 yuan a year per child and as much as 40,000 yuan for those at the top.

This 490,000 yuan figure would not include pregnancy and maternity expenses and indirect economic costs.

For instance, a parent might be absent or late for work, not change his job or had fewer opportunities of getting promoted because of his child.

Most surprisingly, 85% of all single adults still depended on their parents for part or even all of their iving expenses.

Meals were the biggest single factor, besides rents (or cost of buying a house), clothing, mobile phones, internet fees, pocket money, etc. A non-student single adult would set his parents back, on average, as much as 14,000 yuan a year.

The report was greeted with heated discussions on the internet. The general view was that the report was an Arabian Nights story, fooling the general public.

Some people believed that the conclusion might apply to white collar families, mid level and higher officials or families owning private companies.

An online message read: How come some "socialists" are so ignorant about the real situation in China?

What is the per capita annual income for 80% of the Chinese people? How much can be spared for children after deducting all necessary living expenses?

To save 490,000 yuan means, for a family of three with 10,000 yuan annual income, not spending one cent on food or drinks for 49 years.

A postgraduate said that this report was not based on reality. He revealed that it probably cost his family 40,000 to 50,000 yuan to send him to university.

Before he was 17, his family had to spend 2,000 to 3,000 yuan annually, on average, on his schooling expenses in his hometown, a school he considered luxurious.

All the expenditures he mentioned totaled less than 100,000 yuan. As for some of his schoolmates from rural regions, their schooling expenditures amounted at most to half of his.

According to some netizens, Xu Anqi was a spokesman for the upper class. One of them left the following message on the net: "I do not know where the targets of this expert report come from and what class they belong to."

This commentator's father was a worker in a state-owned enterprise and his mother did not have a permanent job.

Up to now, the monthly salary of his parents only amounted to 1,100 yuan altogether. Therefore his family could not save 490,000 yuan even if they did not spend a single penny on food.

Now it has been four years since this commentator graduated from university and he doesn’t ask his family for money from then on, that was why he thought that the experts were spokesmen for the upper class.

However, some Beijing residents left messages on the net saying that they absolutely believed this report. One person gave an example how he spent most of his income on his children.

It cost him 200 yuan for one 90-minute supplementary coaching class, 200 yuan to pay for an eye test in the hospital and another 200 yuan for a pair of glasses. When such expenditures were included, it would take more than 490,000 yuan to raise a child. He also considered that it was a report which was written by conscientious intellectuals. According to him, the intention of the report was clear enough -- to speak for the public.

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