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November 25, 2009

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Happy, despite the downturn

THE global financial crisis didn't heavily affect Shanghai living standards, but locals are plagued by the cost of living, housing prices and medical bills, a survey shows.

Shanghai people scored their happiness at 69 points out of a possible 100, according to the survey, recently conducted by the city government's top advisory body.

This is the first time Shanghai has conducted such a survey about locals' happiness.

The Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference teamed up with some local universities and research institutes to ask 1,360 residents their opinions on the economic downturn's impact on their daily life.

About 56 percent of the locals thought their lives had been unaffected by the financial crisis; 34 percent found it became slightly worse, and 5 percent slightly better.

"Although the global economic downturn has to some extent affected the local people, it didn't threaten the basic living quality of life and didn't cause panic in the society," the survey report said.

The preferential policies pursued by the government, such as pushing investment in infrastructure and aiding threatened enterprises, effectively controlled the unemployment rate and helped people survive in the crisis, according to the report.

"For me, I didn't at all find my living quality affected by the crisis. I got promoted this year and many of my friends have changed their jobs and have been better paid," said Lu Nan, an editor of a magazine in the city.

"The financial crisis is not as terrible as we thought before."

Food and clothes were considered the biggest living cost by 38 percent of those polled. Education fees for children and spending on cultural consumption ranked second.

Asked what pressures plagued their lives, about 18 percent of those polled said soaring living costs; 17 percent cited high housing prices; 15 percent said medical fees. These three items ranked highest in the list.

"The expenses on living, education, housing and medication are all hard costs, which are indispensable," the report said.


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