The rise of the “invisible poor”
Economic Observer (Beijing)
There’s been a lot of chat online in China about the “invisible poor”, says Bai Zao. The term refers to young people who earn more than 10,000 RMB (£1,200) a month, a sizeable income in China, yet who still struggle to live within their means owing to their flash lifestyle. They wear expensive suits, drink top-class Chilean wine, rent posh apartments that eat up more than half their salary and wouldn’t be seen dead in domestic-brand clothes. Indeed, a man was “ruthlessly ridiculed” by young people on Chinese social media recently after he was rejected by a girl on a blind date for wearing Chinese-made shoes. This generation has fully embraced the Us-style pursuit of conspicuous consumption – an unnerving development for some in a country historically known for the frugality of its people. Chinese economists are particularly concerned. It’s one thing, they say, to live a flash life “pay cheque to pay cheque” in the US, which has well-developed retirement, insurance and welfare systems; quite another to do so in China, which lacks many of these safety nets. The fear is that many of these invisible poor may one day find themselves poor for real.
A generation in pursuit of conspicuous consumption