Thursday, March 07, 2013

A squeezed middle class needs more love - Wei Gu/Shaun Rein

Wei Gu
Wei Gu
Between a growing number of billionaires and 700 million peasants China's middle class has severe problems in taking off. In the Wall Street Journal its wealth editor Wei Gu asks for more love for the middle class. Business analyst Shaun Rein warns against an unhappy middle class.

Wei Gu:
Among the 3,000 delegates of the 2013 National People's Congress, the percentage of blue-collar workers and peasants has risen to 13% from 8% in 2012. The number of migrant workers has jumped to 30 from just three last year. Wealthy Chinese continue to be well represented. China's richest man, Zong Qinhou, is attending the annual powwow for the 11th time.
The squeezed middle class deserves more love. As many as 51% of Chinese working professionals suffered from some level of depression, the Ministry of Health said in 2011. They blame pressure from a rapidly changing society, increased competition, long work hours and high property prices.
And Shaun Rein:
"The biggest risk in the world is China's middle class not being happy," said Shaun Rein, the managing director of China Market Research, a consulting firm. "They are the most pessimistic group in the world." 
"The truly rich can afford to live anywhere, and the poor get double-digit wage increases every year," Mr. Rein, author of the book "End of Cheap China," said. "China's middle class has hopes to own a car and home and be rich one day. But as their salary growth slows, they realize they will never be able to get there."
ShaunRein2
Shaun Rein

Update: Here Wei Gu talk more about the thin demografic layer called China's middle class for the WSJ.

Education is one solid way for Chinese to amass more assets. But is it working, is education a gold mine or a black hole, asked the China Weekly Hangout last week, and got some answers from HKU lecturer Paul Fox. Moderator is Fons Tuinstra, president of the China Speakers Bureau.  

Next week, on Thursday 14 March, the China Weekly Hangout will focus on the media in Hong Kong. In the 1990s they were a beacon of hope, and Hong Kong one of few global news capitals. With Paul Fox of the HKU we will discuss the state of Hong Kong media. You can read our announcement here, or directly register at our event page. 
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