A growing number of farmers in the suburbs of Shanghai, China's most developed metropolis, are adopting the lifestyle of city dwellers, spurring Shanghai's urbanization drive.
Instead of staying in their old villages, many farmers have begun to buy apartments in local towns and urban areas. The per capita expenditure of these Shanghai rural households for such residences averaged 266 yuan (US$32) in the first quarter of this year, soaring 77.3 percent year-on-year.
As the municipal government is giving priority to the suburbs in constructing basic facilities, price hikes for town buildings are expected, which has also stimulated the desire of local farmers to purchase apartments.
Expressways, rail lines and cross-river bridges have "shortened" the distance from Shanghai's suburbs to the downtown districts, making it easier for farmers to make more trips and spend more money in the urban areas.
One new trend seems to be for farmers to treat their guests to dinners at urban restaurants. Statistics show that local farmers' per capita spending in restaurants increased 22.2 percent to 71 yuan (US$8.6) in the first quarter of the year.
Over the past three months, the per capita disposable income of Shanghai's rural households reached 3,152 yuan (US$379.8), a nearly five-year high. Meanwhile, their per capita cash expenditure climbed a year-on-year 6.9 percent to more than 1,500 yuan (US$180.7).
(Xinhua News Agency May 7, 2003)