Rich-poor divide serious, study finds

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-26 06:51

About 90 per cent of Chinese believe the polarization between the rich and poor is "serious" in China, according to a survey.

And more than 80 per cent of the respondents surveyed said something must be done to narrow the expanding gap between the rich and poor, while 14.1 per cent said it was unnecessary.

The China Youth Daily, which conducted the survey together with, reported that more than half of the respondents said the Chinese should stick together despite the widening gap.

The polarization has aroused wide concern among the public in recent years.

While the white collars in Beijing are planning a New Year trip to Hong Kong or Thailand, many others are trying to scrimp and save and worrying about increasing costs in medical care and food.

The State Development and Reform Commission said the Gini Coefficient, a measure of income inequality, had reached 0.47 for China, up from 0.29 two decades ago.

Usually, a country with a ratio exceeding 0.4 is warned to pay more attention to the inequality issue.

To find out the people's view, the survey covered 10,250 respondents, between the ages of 20 and 30 with a college education and a monthly salary between 1,000 and 3,000 yuan (US$120-US$360).

Surprisingly, most disagreed with the view of experts who claim the urban-rural disparity is causing the widening gap.

More than 70 per cent of the respondents believed that "the group of special interests" is the prime reason for the polarization.

Followed by "people in power" 68 per cent, and "bosses" 50 per cent.

Another unexpected finding almost all agreed that a good educational background and knowledge were not the decisive factors in gaining wealth.

About 95 per cent said rich people are not necessarily those who are able to speak English or have a college education.

Today in China, rich people, accounting for 10 per cent of the population, control 45 per cent of the total social fortune, and poor people, also 10 per cent of the population, only control 1.4 per cent, according to an investigation published by the National Bureau of Statistics last June.

There are 130 million poor people in China, most earning less than US$1 a day, according to the World Bank.

(China Daily 12/26/2006 page2)

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