Incomes become more uneven in Beijing, Shanghai

Updated: 2011-07-19 07:51

By Yu Ran (China Daily)

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SHANGHAI - The difference seen between incomes in Beijing and Shanghai, two of the largest cities in China, has become greater in the past decade.

That is in part the result of the varying economic structure found in the two cities, as well the willingness of residents of both places to buy goods and services.

The capital's annual income and consumption levels are both lower than Shanghai's and have been increasing more slowly, according to the Annual Report on Analysis of Beijing Society-Building, also known as the Blue Book of Society Building, which was released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Monday.

According to statistics from the blue book, the annual average disposable income among urban residents in Beijing was 17,653 yuan ($2,715) a person in 2005, which is 992 yuan fewer than it was in Shanghai. In 2009, the difference became greater, increasing to 2,100 yuan.

"The income difference between the two cities is understandable because there are more State-owned enterprises in the capital," said Lu Hanlong, professor from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences' institute of sociology.

"They offer more stable salaries, while more international private companies, which offer better benefits, have been started in Shanghai."

A comparison of the salaries earned in both places also reveals differences. In Shanghai between 2006 and 2009, the average salary paid to residents rose by an amount that was 531 yuan higher than the amount that salaries rise by in Beijing during those years.

"With more private companies and international enterprises opening offices in Shanghai, salary incomes and labor costs have risen alongside the rapid economic development and improved welfare system seen in the city," said Lu.

Lu said a rise in consumption in Shanghai and the entrance of more luxury brands into the city have led to a higher cost of living. That cost is much lower in Beijing.

Compared with the annual average amount of consumption in Shanghai, that in Beijing has declined among urban residents. In Beijing, a city resident spends about 13,244.2 yuan on average on goods and services, which is 528.8 yuan fewer than Shanghai residents spent on average in 2005. In 2009, the difference in consumption between the cities amounted to 3,099 yuan.

"The cost of living in Shanghai is a bit high for new graduates from other cities," said Teng Xiaole, 28, who works for a tourist agency in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. "So the majority of us (graduates) were failing to save money when I worked as a public-relations employee in a hotel in Shanghai just after graduation."

Two years ago, Teng moved back to her hometown after working in Shanghai for about four months. She decided to return largely because she had found it difficult to afford living in Shanghai on the amount of money she was then making.


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