China has a substantial diversity of economic levels. It has become the second power, but the differences are considerable. Still, 600 million Chinese have an average income of 1000 yuan per month (140 USD). While the eastern side of the country is pulling growth upwards and attracting people, the West fails to catch up. The inequality between the cities and the countryside is also growing. China’s national statistics office has just released data on disposable income for the first half of the year. They are a good reflection of these geographical disparities.
The eastern facade, in the spotlight
Disposable income is total income less social security contributions and income taxes. With an average of 36,600 yuan over the first six months, Shanghai is in first place ahead of Beijing with 34,600 yuan. The 20,000 club includes Zhejiang – 27,039, Jiangsu -22,126, Tianjin -22067, Guangdong – 20774. Fujian, Liaoning and Shandong, and Chongqing provinces have incomes above the moving average of 15,666 – or 2,611 yuan per month. There is a wide gap between the cities -21,655 yuans, and the rural areas -8069 yuan.
The average increase was 2.4%. Nineteen provinces/cities exceeded this growth. Tibet shows the highest increase with 9.66%, but with the lowest income in the country, 8,545 yuan. Three regions show declines, Tianjin, Heilongjiang, and Hubei; the latter has the most significant drop with -9.42%. The health crisis is the leading cause of this decline.
Disposable income in yuans :
Wages: 9010 yuan for the first six months of the year
Wages amounted to 9010 yuan (57.5%), transfer income 2,938 yuan, income from ancillary activities 2,341 yuan, and assets 1,376 yuan. Transfer income includes pensions, social benefits, and subsidies. Pensions per capita increased by 9.3%, subsidies by 13.2%.
In general, the average Chinese wage presented is the city wage, which is found in most foreign media. The bureau of statistics distinguishes between cities and rural areas, and the difference is abyssal: 13,232 yuan compared to 3,654 yuan, almost four times more for cities, 2205/ month and 609/month. The figures usually announced on average salaries are higher. Either rural areas are not taken into account, or only the most significant cities are taken into account, which does not reflect the whole reality.
These data allow us to “quantify” the rural-urban gap. It is practically 1 to 4 in wages and salaries and 1 to 3 for total disposable income. One more example that shows how difficult it is to speak China.
Sources: National Bureau of Statistics 国家统计局
As a reminder:
1 € = 8,18 yuans
1 = 7 yuans
26 July 2020