2015 a stressful year for many Chinese, new poll finds
More Chinese felt worried and stressed in 2015 than in any year in the past decade, according to a new Gallup poll.
Twenty-seven percent of the Chinese surveyed said they worried a lot the previous day, while 40 percent said they experienced a lot of stress, a jump from the 18 percent and 28 percent, respectively, from the previous year, according to a Gallup report released on Monday.
In the past decade, the percentage of those saying they had a lot of stress had hovered between a low of 28 percent in 2011 and 2014 and a high of 38 percent in 2013, while the percentage of those experiencing worry saw a low of 18 percent in 2014 and a high of 25 percent in 2006 and 2009.
The Gallup report says such feelings have increased sharply as Chinese residents’ satisfaction with their household income and personal savings dropped precipitously last year amid China’s economic slowdown. It says personal financial setbacks often lead to increased worry and stress.
A Gallup report released on Jan 18 showed that the satisfaction that Chinese have with their household income dropped from a high of 66 percent in 2014 to 58 percent in 2015.
The number experiencing negative emotions has increased more among rural Chinese than among city dwellers, according to the poll, which was taken of 4,265 Chinese in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in July 2015.
The fact that only big cities were chosen could be misleading, because Chinese living in big metropolitan areas are known for experiencing more stress and worry due to the hectic work and lifestyle pace.
A total of 28 percent of those living in rural farming areas or small villages said they worried a lot the previous day, compared with only 16 percent in 2014. Meanwhile, that figure of 22 percent for urban dwellers is down four percentage points from 2014.
The same is true for the stress felt. Some 41 percent of rural residents felt a lot of stress the previous day in 2015, up 15 points from 2014. Although the percentage of urban Chinese feeling stress was 40 percent, it was three points higher than in 2014.
The Gallup report did not say whether the rapid urbanization in China, which has narrowed the urban and rural lifestyle gap, contributed to the faster increase in rural stress and worry.
The report says basic food and shelter are greater concerns in rural China. Eight percent of rural Chinese said there have been times in the past 12 months when they did not have enough money to buy food for their families, compared with 2 percent of urbanites saying the same.
Twelve percent in rural areas said they have not had enough money to provide their families with adequate housing in the past year, nearly twice the percentage reported by city dwellers, or 7 percent, who have struggled to provide housing.
Anxieties among rural Chinese may be an inevitable byproduct of the slowing economy and structural changes in China’s economic policies, according to the Gallup report.
It says that for decades, rural Chinese have migrated to work in low-end manufacturing plants, but those jobs are shifting to other Asian countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh amid China’s transition toward a service and high-tech economy.
Rural Chinese likely worry that their future economic prospects are dimming as modern manufacturing requires more highly skilled employees.
Despite the Gallup report, Pew Center surveys have shown Chinese are among the most optimistic about their future. A Pew survey in July showed that Chinese, at 88 percent, trail only Vietnamese in saying that their next generation will be better off, compared with 32 percent in the United States.
Chinese leaders have pledged to narrow the rural and urban divide and to improve job training.