The Chinese Celebrate Their Roaring Economy, As They Struggle With Its Costs

Jul 22, 2008

As they eagerly await the Beijing Olympics, the Chinese people express extraordinary levels of satisfaction with the way things are going in their country and with their nation's economy. With more than eight-in-ten having a positive view of both, China ranks number one among 24 countries on both measures in the 2008 survey by the Pew Research Center's Pew Global Attitudes Project. These findings represent a dramatic improvement in national contentment from earlier in the decade when the Chinese people were not nearly as positive about the course of their nation and its economy.

The new Pew Global Attitudes survey also finds that most Chinese citizens polled rate many aspects of their own lives favorably, including their family life, their incomes and their jobs. However, levels of personal satisfaction are generally lower than the national measures, and by global standards Chinese contentment with family, income and jobs is not especially high. Further, Chinese satisfaction with these aspects of life has improved only modestly over the past six years, despite the dramatic increase in positive ratings of national conditions and the economy.

In that regard, Pew's 2007 survey showed that the relatively low Chinese personal contentment was in line with the still modest level of per-capita income there - looking across the 47 countries included in that poll, life satisfaction ratings in China fell about where one would predict based on the country's wealth. The current poll takes a deeper look into how the Chinese people evaluate their lives and specific conditions in their country, providing further insight into the contrast between the average Chinese's satisfaction with the state of the country and its economy and relative dissatisfaction with elements of personal life.

The new data suggest the Chinese people may be struggling with the consequences of economic growth. Notably, concerns about inflation and environmental degradation are widespread. And while most Chinese embrace the free market, there is considerable concern about rising economic inequality in China today.

These are the latest findings from the 2008 Pew survey of China. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 3,212 adults in China between March 28 and April 19, 2008, a period which followed the March 10 onset of civil unrest on Tibet and preceded the May 12 earthquake in China's Sichuan Province. The sample, which is disproportionately representative of China's urban areas, includes eight major cities, as well as medium-sized towns and rural areas in eight Chinese provinces. The area covered by the sample represents approximately 42% of the country's adult population.

Read the full report The Chinese Celebrate Their Roaring Economy, As They Struggle With Its Costs on the Pew Global Attitudes Project Web site.

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