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Survey Chronicles Changing Chinese Lifestyles
Today’s Chinese care more about the quality of their lives over just earning money, according to a recent survey by the Life program of China Central TV Station and the National Bureau of Statistics. The survey found that compared to five years ago urban Chinese also are investing and embracing new buying habits, more women are running households, and more people are being careful about eating a healthy diet.

Meanwhile, some 16.6 percent of families interviewed reported doubling their financial asserts over the past five years. Those who reported fewer financial assets said the money was being used for housing and children’s education.

The survey covered 3,000 families in 10 cities including Beijing and provincial capitals of central China's Shanxi and Henan, eastern China's Jiangsu and Anhui, south China's Guangdong, western China's Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi.

Consumer habits also have changed. Five years ago urbanites spent 63.47 percent of their income on daily necessities. But with more income today being spent on housing, medical insurance, education, and travel -- the amount spent on daily necessities has dropped to 49.19 percent. .

And Chinese are gradually becoming accustomed to the concept of using tomorrow’s money to realize today's dream. More are getting bank loans to buy houses, cars, and durable goods. Five years ago 53.2 percent of Chinese said they didn’t like the idea of buying on credit. That rate has now dropped to 27 percent – a great change for a people long used to putting savings in the bank to earn interest. And those who are saving are investing money in a variety of ways with fifty-five percent of those surveyed holding more bonds, stocks along with their traditional savings deposits.

Durable goods have become more prevalent, the survey showed. For example, the telephone, camera, disc player, air-conditioner, microwave stove, cellular phone are now in more Chinese homes than five years ago. The hi-fi stereo system, video recorder, personal computer, electric heater, and vacuum cleaner could be found in 15 percent of the homes of the surveyed families. In the next five years, still more goods are expected to enter Chinese homes such as the washing machine, microwave, car, digital camera, mobile phone, and water purifiers.

In a break from the Chinese patriarch cal tradition, more women were found to be having a bigger say in their families as they become head of household, especially in north China with a 55.5 percent rate compared to 51.3 percent in the south.

In the face of increasing work pressure, more people (48.2 percent of the surveyed families) stressed the importance of sound health. Chinese interviewed expressed more awareness of the importance of balanced nutrition and said they rely on sound eating habits to stay healthy as opposed to exercise and regular medical check-ups. Among the surveyed, 55.7 percent said they preferred healthy and natural foods including vegetables and fruit. Some 59.4 percent said they paid attention to food ingredients and expiration dates when shopping, which is more than previously. About 40 percent of the people said that they enjoy healthy food combinations and that they limit intake their intake of sugar, salt, and fat.

In their leisure time, Chinese many urbanites (41.3 percent) enjoy trips to parks and playgrounds while others (37.4) percent favor working out in their spare time. Fewer than 15 percent said they enjoy going to a concert, art gallery, bar, cafe, and stadium. As for public holidays like the week-long Labor Day holiday and National Day holiday, more people are traveling both home and abroad.

(CIIC by Guo Xiaohong 08/03/2001)

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