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Income Rise Improves Livelihoods
Two decades ago, bicycles and sewing machines were the most important property of ordinary Chinese families.

Nowadays, modern appliances such as refrigerators, cameras and mobile phones are common possessions of Chinese people. Many urban families now own private cars and newly constructed houses.

This change in personal property epitomizes the ever-improving livelihoods of Chinese people since the country began reforming and opening up in the late 1970s.

The Engel Coefficient (proportion of expenditure on food to total income) of Chinese urban residents declined to 37.9 percent last year from more than 57 percent two decades ago.

The coefficient of rural residents dropped from 67.7 percent in 1978 to 47.7 percent.

China's profound economic reform has resulted in the steady growth of private income. Between 1989 and 2001, the per capita disposable income of urban residents increased by 7.1 percent each year. The per capita income of rural residents rose 4.3 percent annually.

Private deposits accounted for 7.38 trillion yuan (US$891.6 billion) last year, compared to 21 billion yuan (US$2.54 billion) in 1978. In particular, increasing numbers of urban families have begun to buy houses in recent years. Private consumers account for more than 90 percent of the robust sales of houses.

(China Daily October 18, 2002)

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