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Survey: Private Cars Increase Three Times 40% of Homes Hope to Have a Car in Five Years


Xu Di, Zhao Yuanyuan  

In the next five years, 40% of Beijing homes hope to buy a car while in the previous five years, the number of homes with private cars has already increased three times, bringing the total number of private cars from 220,000 to 600,000.  These figures were just realeased yesterday in the report released from the Beijing Urban Resident Lifestyle Survey.

The survey was conducted by Hu Dayuan and Li Ling of Peking University's China Center for Economic Research (CCER) to act as a measure of popular opinion for the government in deciding policy.  The survey dealt mainly with daily activities such as eating, transportation and healthcare. The CCER conducted home interviews with nearly 2000 households in eight of Beijing's districts in the years 1996, 2000 and 2005.

Pressure Increases with Increase in Income and Education

The survey shows that in the past 10 years, the avmontly income of Beijing residents has doubled; 1,825.2 Yuan (226USD) in 1996 and 5,374.9 Yuan (665.54USD) in 2005.  These numbers continue to rise for the young and the educated.  Those between 25 and 35 have the highest monthly salary at 6704 Yuan (830.11USD).  With each additional year of education, one can make an extra 718 Yuan (88.91USD) per month.

The survey also shows that those with high income have the most pressure from work while those with low incomes feel pressure from healthcare and social security issues.  Pressure for the young comes mostly from finding work and housing, while after becoming middle-aged, their worries shift to their children's education and in their later years they worry most about health issues.

An Increase in Concerns over Drinking Water

On the issue of living conditions for urban residents, the "Blue Sky Plan" received support from 70% of urban residents to improve air quality.  In order to breath cleaner air, residents were willing to contribute more money annually, totalling 223 Yuan (27.61USD), which will cover the investment by the government in the 8 year program to convert from coal to natural gas.  Also, residents were more and more satisfied with the quality of water in lakes and rivers, garbage collection and urban greening, but there was an increase in the concern over drinking water with an increase of 50% in the number of homes with a water cooler from 10 years ago.

Average Daily Commute: 1.5 hours

The average amount of time spent by Beijing residents commuting to and from work was one and one half hours in 2005, with those with longer commutes feeling the least healthy.  In the past 10 years, the number of people biking to work has decreased 20% while the number driving their own cars to work has increased 17%.  However, the main reasons for not owning a car have changed from not being able to afford one to not wanting to deal with traffic congestion and parking problems.

Most Choose not to go to Hospital for Small Illnesses

This survey found that almost 60% of residents were unsatisfied with Beijing's healthcare system.  Compared with a 90% disapproval rating nationally, Beijing is relatively satisfied.  If Beijing residents come down with a cold or fever, most will choose an over-the-counter remedy while may 1/5 choose to just ride it out, while those who choose to go to hospital only make up 10%.  The main reason for this is the difficulty and cost of going to a major hospital.  Residents believe that the government should invest in community health service centers in order to improve the public health system.  Beijing residents go out for dinner an average of 1.5 times per week with higher income earners going out more often.  Some go out 10 times per week, eating out an average 1.4 times a day.