A Chinese farmers' consumption was an average of 71 yuan more in 2001 than in 2000, an increase of 3.4 percent if price fluctuations are deducted.
Half of this was spent on housing, communication and telecommunications.
The results of a nation-wide survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that farmers' per capita consumption totaled 1,741 yuan in 2001.
The NBS said farmers' quality of life has improved as their food consumption accounted for only 47.8 percent of total spending last year, 1.3 percent lower than in the previous year.
At the same time, as farmers food consumption improved they spent much more on electric household appliances and housing. The number of farm households using clean fuels also increased in 2001.
Cash accounted for 78.3 percent of the total value of farmers' consumption in the year, 1.4 percentage points more than in 2000, as they consumed less value of food they grew.
The NBS found that the farmers' lowest income group spent 992 yuan per capita in 2001, while the highest income group spent an average of 3,308 yuan. At the same time, consumption by the lowest income group grew by a mere 1.5 percent in the year, compared with the 7.2 percent consumption growth of the highest income group.
The NBS noted that the gap in consumption between farmers in different areas of the country widened in 2001. The ratios of spending of farmers in eastern, central and western parts of the country were 1.69:1.19:1, respectively. An average farmer in the prosperous eastern part of China spent 0.7 times more than a farmer in the relatively underdeveloped western areas.
(Xinhua News Agency March 13, 2002)