World / Reporter's Journal

More Chinese satisfied despite economic slowdown

By Chen Weihua in Washington (China Daily USA) Updated: 2015-09-07 05:30

The Gallup poll, which was conducted in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in September 2014, found that as Chinese satisfaction with their household income has soared so has satisfaction with the amount of savings they have been able to set aside for future needs, such as housing, education, healthcare and retirement.

A quarter (25 percent) of respondents were satisfied with their savings during the financial slump in 2009, but that figure had climbed to 44 percent in 2014, the highest in recent years.

However, China's aging population continues to place a high priority on saving for the future even as its household income increases and as the country's policymakers try to stimulate the economy with more consumption, according to the Gallup report.

Household income and savings aside, the poll also found that Chinese are more content with other aspects of their lives than they were during the global financial crisis in 2009.

In 2014, a total of 85 percent of Chinese expressed satisfaction with family life, compared with 76 percent in 2009. Also, 70 percent expressed satisfaction over their current housing in 2014, despite high housing prices, a jump from the 57 percent in 2009.

On education, 55 percent in 2014 expressed satisfaction with the education they received, compared with 43 percent in 2009, while 48 percent were satisfied with the education their children were receiving, up from 36 percent in 2009.

In the US, the Chinese satisfaction with income and education is seen in the growing number of Chinese students studying in US colleges and universities and in the rising number of Chinese travelers at major US tourist attractions and shopping centers, especially following last year's bilateral visa-extension agreement.

The Gallup report concludes that China's current economic slowdown could substantially affect Chinese satisfaction with their income and savings - particularly among those in the lower-income brackets.

Though satisfaction with household income may decrease for this group, Chinese are more likely to put the brakes on consumer spending rather than curtail their coveted savings plans, directly opposing the government's wish for Chinese to spend more on consumer goods and services, according to the report.

"It will be instructive to monitor how the current economic slowdown in the country - with plunging stocks and a devalued currency - affects the level of satisfaction Chinese have with their household income and savings for 2015," the report said.

Also on Sept 1, Gallup released another report showing that Americans' confidence in their economy fell to the lowest level since September 2014.

It said the drop in the confidence in the last weeks before the report was consistent with the broader decline seen since February.

The Economic Confidence Index used by Gallup in the survey is the average of two components: how Americans rate current economic conditions, and whether they feel the economy is getting better or getting worse.

While China's stock market plunge and the Greek debt problems are cited as concerns, Americans have clearly not responded to the message that the US economy is recovering.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, described the US economy as "strong performer" while also dismissing the prospect of a Chinese economic meltdown.

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