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Half of city dwellers happy with life
( 2004-01-05 00:49) (China Daily)

Roughly half of Chinese urban residents believed their living standards have been improved over the past two years, and medicare is now the greatest source of dissatisfaction for urban dwellers, a recent survey showed.

But while residents with higher incomes were more prone to be satisfied, a significant number of lower income people said their living conditions have actually deteriorated.

Beijing Mainland Marketing Research Co surveyed 11,000 people aged over 18 in 31 municipalities, capitals of provinces and autonomous regions last October about their current living situation and expectations for the future.

The survey found that 57.1 per cent of all those surveyed said their living standards have improved somewhat.

However, there was still a sizable number saying their current life is not satisfactory and needs to be further improved.

Medicare topped the list as the most pressing issue. Social welfare, social security, employment, housing and education concerns followed.

The problem of medicare is especially trying for middle-aged and elderly people. The survey found 25 per cent of the middle-aged people and 31 per cent of the elderly consider it the major difficulty in daily life.

"One of my wishes is to stay healthy now and not become a burden on my children because of my illness,'' said Gao Jinying, 63, a retired Beijinger.

For younger participants in the survey, the biggest obstacle in life is housing, as 23 per cent of the surveyed young people reported.

For the middle-aged group, the high cost of their children's education is a major issue, with 30 per cent of respondents listing that as their main concern.

The good news is that almost all of the surveyed people made no complaints about food and clothing.

The survey also found that respondents with a higher income tended to be more satisfied with their lives.

Over 70 per cent of people in the higher income bracket reported no difficulty in daily life, compared to only 20 per cent of people in the lowest income group.

In fact, nearly 30 per cent of people in the lowest income group said their living standards have dropped in the past couple of years.

That group made up most of the 10 per cent of people surveyed who reported a decline in living standards.

The drop was mostly driven by high education costs and an inability to afford medicare.

About one quarter of all respondents found no difficulties in their day to day life.

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