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China's rich-poor divide soaring(2)

2014-07-30 15:00 Shanghai Daily Web Editor: Si Huan

A big urban-rural gap has most of the poor families living in the countryside, where only a few stable and rich families live, while most of the indulgence families live in cities, and fewer poor people live in urban areas, as well.

Jobs are an obvious reason for this, as urban salaries are about triple what they are in the countryside. That is a primary reason for China's urbanization drive and a key to pushing hundreds of millions of people into the middle class over the past 20 years.

Real estate is crucial

The report says that real estate represents nearly 80 percent of urban family assets in China, and about 60 percent of the assets of rural households.

Years' worth of rapid inflation in housing prices lies behind this statistic. In the countryside, houses are often built by the farmers themselves, and land costs are much lower. Housing pressures for urban families generally are much heavier than for those in rural areas.

High medical care

According to the report, medical expenses constitute nearly 11 percent of a family's budget, a figure that is higher than that in industrialized countries.

Compared with 2010, families spent more on medical expenses in 2012 but the percentage of their overall expenses decreased due to higher incomes.

Urban residents face greater pressure on medical expenses than their country brethren because medical care costs more in the cities.

Different voices

Jimmy Zhang,

43, clerk at a multinational company

"My family assets are the several apartments that I bought in the last decade. Frankly speaking, I don't have a big saving; all of the family income becomes our fixed assets, which proved to be quite correct. The value of these apartments already exceeds 20 million yuan. I feel lucky that I caught the golden chance in my life."

Zhu Yi,

60, retiree

"I am quite worried about my future expenses on medical care. Do you know how costly it will be to have a surgery at a hospital today? Last year, I had a bypass for my heart, and it cost 50,000 yuan (US$8,000). But my retirement pension is only about 3,500 yuan a month. I don't want to add any financial burdens to my children. So my husband and I are quite frugal in our daily life, as we have to save some money for future medical care expenses. Anyone will be aged, will get diseased; you must prepare for it before it happens."

Jiang Yulan,

38, ayi (domestic helper) from Anhui Province

"Although my husband and daughter are now working in Shanghai, it is impossible for us to buy any fixed assets here. We still rent a shabby and small apartment. I'm one day my husband and I will return to the countryside where we have our own house. Now I just pray that we stay healthy. We all understand that today a big disease could ruin a whole family."

Peter Li,

33, financial consultant

"Now I only have one apartment where my family lives. I already sold out my two apartments two years ago. Frankly, I am not so confident in the economy. I believe that cash is king. You might not believe my words, but let's just wait and see."

Jiang Xiaoyue,

24, fresh graduate from Changsha, Hunan Province

"Family assets? No, I only have 10,000 yuan in my bank account. My life has just started in Shanghai with my first job. I don't know whether I can buy an apartment in the city in the future. Now the biggest problem for me is how to make ends meet. The pressures on my shoulder as an outsider is beyond your expectation. I wish that I could find my Mr Right to share it with me."

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