People's Livelihood  

Before 1951, Tibet was under a feudal system based on temporal and religious administration, characterized by joint dictatorship of clerical and secular officials and nobles, land possession by manorial lords and personal attachment of serfs and slaves to manorial lords. Serfs and slaves, who made up over 95 percent of the population, did not hold any means of production, and were totally dependent on the "three manorial lords"(government officials, nobles and monasteries), who constituted less than 5 percent of the total population but owned all the land and forests and most of the livestock. In addition to heavy land rents, the serfs had to pay dozens of taxes and perform many different types of corvee labors. With serfs belonging to their owners from birth, many were sold or transferred many times during their lifetime. The marriage of a serf couple was subject to the agreement of their respective owners. After death, the names of serfs were written off from the book held by their owners, who could claim all or most of any personal property. This inhuman situation remained virtually unchanged from 1951 when Tibet won peaceful liberation to 1959 when the Democratic Reform was carried out in the region.

However, due to the weak foundation, Tibet witnessed unbalanced development. At the end of the 1970s, as people in some parts of the region began to enjoy ample food and clothing, a total of 870,000 residents still led a poor life. China launched a poverty-relief program in 1994, aiming to lift the entire country's 8 million poor citizens out of poverty in the remaining years of the 20th century. In that year, the central and local governments appropriated 750 million Yuan in poverty-relief development funds. In 1996, the Tibet regional government made another decision to guarantee poor local people their basic needs in clothing, food, housing and transportation, improve their basic production and business conditions and enable them to have a secured income. In terms of price indicators, the per-capital net income (taking a county as a statistical unit and calculated in 1990 constant prices) was to reach 600 Yuan in agricultural areas, 700 Yuan in pastoral areas, and 750 Yuan in semi-agricultural and semi-pastoral areas by the end of the century. Drinking water for people and domestic animals would be guaranteed; medical service conditions would be improved, and illiteracy would be eliminated among young and middle-aged people.

In 2001, Tibet achieved self-sufficiency in grain and edible oil. Poverty-stricken population decreased from 480,000 to 70,000, with the proportion of poor people in regional population dropping 15.6 percentage points from 18.3 percent to 2.7 percent. Farmers and herders in 18 counties whose people lived under poverty line won an annual net income of 1,316 Yuan per capita, a figure close to the regional level; the annual average increase stayed higher than the regional average by 4.4 percentage points. The net per-capital income of farmers and herders rose from 200 Yuan in 1978 to 1,410 Yuan in 2001, an increase of 5.9 percent over 2000. The per-capita income of urban residents for living expenses increased by a big margin over the 1978 level, to 5,998 Yuan, higher than the national average level.

Individual Consumption

A sample survey of 3,181 farmers indicates that residents in agricultural areas use 24 percent of their spending for housing construction and 68.4 percent on household furniture and daily necessities. The diet is becoming increasingly diversified. Consumption of vegetables, eggs, alcoholic beverages, candies and pastries has increased. A sample survey of urban dwellers shows that more than 50 percent of spending goes to food, of which meat, poultry, milk, eggs, dried and fresh fruits and vegetables constitute 58 percent. Citizens are spending more money on ready-made clothing of better quality and in new styles.

Social Security

The government of the Tibet Autonomous Region has paid great attention to social welfare undertakings related to employment, medical care, housing, old-age care, insurance, and poverty and disaster relief. It takes full care of the livelihood of senior citizens without any family, and orphans. It has established 10 welfare institutions and 50-odd seniors"homes in rural and pastoral areas. More than 7,000 elderly people with no family, and handicapped, infirm and seriously sick citizens who have lost the ability to work, are cared for by the government in five ways (food, clothing, medical care, housing and burial expenses).

In line with the requirements for the establishment of a socialist market economy, the regional government has accelerated reforms aimed at establishing a social security system centered on old-age care and unemployment insurance. Close attention is being paid to the expansion of the coverage of old-age insurance and an increase of the proportion of funds subject to unified management. The regional authorities take the responsibility for unified planning of old-age insurance. A part of the basic pension will be pegged to the average wage level and the other part to the actual sum and the duration for which the individuals have paid. The government's unemployment insurance fund and supervisory mechanism have been improved, while services for the re-employment of the jobless have been enhanced.

The number of the handicapped in Tibet totals some 150,000. During the Ninth Five-Year Plan, more than 5,200 of them recovered health. In addition, some 1 million people were given iodine capsule to take. Nowadays, upwards of 70 percent of the counties in Tibet have set up federations for the handicapped. In many villages, there are people charged with offering special services for such people. In 2000, Tibet set up the Lhasa Special Education School, which is the first school specially for the blind, the deaf and the mute. Thirty-five children from Lhasa, Shannan and Nyingchi now attend the school.

Annual Per-Capita Consumption of All Residents
Improvement in People's Matrerial and Cultural Life
Number of Major Durables Owned by Per 100 Urban Households at Year-end
Pre-Capita Annual Gross Income of Rural Households
Basic Conditions of Urban Households
Per-Capita Grain Acquisition and Consumption of Rural Households
Basic Conditions of Rural Households
Per-Capta Living Expenditure of Rural Households
Number of Consumer Durables Owned Per 100 Rural Households at the Year-end
Total Retail Sales of Consumer Goods



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