Researcher says 73% of China's middle class on marginal level

Updated 2017-04-17 17:01:00

(ECNS) -- Recent research by a Tsinghua University professor shows that 73 percent of China's middle class find themselves on the margins closer to the lower class.

Li Qiang, a professor with the School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University published his study in an academic journal in Jiangsu Province, using the International Socio-Economic Index of Occupational Status to analyze data from the sixth national census in 2010, including some 683,291 working people aged from 16 to 64.

The study found China's middle class is still tilted toward the lower end of the economic spectrum.

Li said China's middle class has both a transitional and marginal middle class. The paper measured the size of the two groups and analyzed their distribution and occupational makeup in different cities.

His study showed that the upper class accounted for 5.62 percent and the middle class for 19.12 percent of the overall sample. Among the middle class, 73 percent were found to be near the lower margin, generally working in offices, sales, production, equipment maintenance and as technicians.

Li also said life doesn't vary much between the marginal middle class and lower class and it's safe to say they actually belong to the same social strata.

The larger a city becomes, the smaller the proportion of low-income workers and the bigger the middle class, it was also found.

In small, medium, large, super large and mega cities, the middle class accounts for 14.1 percent, 17.17 percent, 23.01 percent, 27.68 percent and 41.4 percent of the working population respectively, the paper said.

Mega cities face a much heavier task in fostering the middle class and assisting the marginal middle class, who are often migrants and frequently face rejection from native residents.

Li said the development of mega cities can contribute to China's modern transition and form the new structure to sustain a post-industrial society.

His finding plays down concerns about so-called "urban disease", a catch-all phrase for problems caused by the imbalance between a rising population and urban resources. Li called for improved city management to overcome the challenge rather than worrying about the scale of a mega city.

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