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Housing, Education and Jobs Top Urbanites' Worries
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Housing, education and jobs are the main areas of concern for urban residents and they would like to see these issues addressed by the country's top legislators next month, according to a recent poll.

The Social Survey Institute of China (SSIC), a non-governmental organization, polled 2,000 people in 16 major cities including Beijing and Shanghai, and asked them what they would like to see covered at next month's annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC).

Nearly four in five respondents said they were worried about rising house prices and poor services provided by property management companies.

Urban real estate prices have seen a rapid rise in recent years. According to the World Bank, housing prices worldwide correspond to household income earned over five to seven years. But in China, that figure is 11 years worth of earnings.

About three in five respondents were concerned about limited job opportunities.

Despite a record 11 million job openings this year, 14 million urbanites including those entering the job market, laid-off workers and migrants from rural areas might find themselves unemployed. The pollsters said laid-off personnel, disabled people and fresh university graduates would have the most difficulty finding jobs.

As tuition fees keep rising in educational institutions, nearly three in five surveyed complained about the increasing cost and corruption.

High medical expenses, rising inequality, personal safety, financial fraud and the rule of law are also listed as major worries.

"The findings show that these are very personal concerns," Wang Xing, the public opinion center director of SSIC, said. "We hope their concerns reach the legislators."

Asked whether communication between the public and the authorities was smooth and open, only about 11 percent of the respondents replied in the positive; 42 percent said it was "so-so"' and the others said it was ineffective.

(China Daily February 24, 2006)

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