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May 11, 2012

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Car ownership soars amid more income

PRIVATE car ownership more than tripled for families in downtown Shanghai over the past five years amid an overall growth in local residents' disposable income, according to a survey released yesterday by the local statistics bureau.

For every 100 families in downtown Shanghai at the end of last year, 18 owned private sedans, 13 more than five years ago.

The survey investigated changes in major indicators measuring life quality in Shanghai for the years between 2007 and 2011. It showed per-capita disposable income among downtown residents reached 36,230 yuan per annum last year. With the impact from inflation taken into account, an average Shanghai urban resident's disposable income improved by 8.3 percent, the survey said.

Average annual disposable income for a resident living in the city's rural areas was 15,644 yuan last year, an effective growth of 7.6 percent after inflation.

"The life quality for the past five years continued to improve solidly," the bureau said in a report elaborating on its findings.

Local families' purchasing power improved markedly, with more money being spent on cars, housing, travel and other personal consumption, the bureau said. It cited survey results such as the growth in the ownership of cars.

The survey said each 100 urban households owned 18 cars by end of last year while they only had five cars five years ago. Every 100 rural families had 10 cars, which was a quadrupling from five years earlier. Annual expenditures on travel for an average downtown resident rose 37.3 percent over the five years.

But the statistics authority's notion that local families were enjoying improving life quality was hardly convincing to some members of the public. The survey was swamped by voices of strong disagreement shortly after it was published online yesterday. Netizens sneered at the bureau, saying it had turned a blind eye to many depressing factors, such as deteriorating air quality, soaring living costs and housing prices, shortages of medication and schooling resources and other mounting challenges.

"The housing price soared by several times in Shanghai! Prices for so many other goods and services also hiked heavily. How could the bureau convince us that the life quality actually improved?" commented one netizen on the social-networking platform

The report pointed to other improvements as well. The statistics bureau reported the local monthly social allowance for the poor had increased by 57.8 percent over the five years to reach 505 yuan per person, and that 67 percent more people got covered by the pension system over the same span.


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